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Full text of "Penhala, a wayside wizard"

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8a5 

V. I 



PENHALA. 



VOL. I. 



NEW NOVELS AT ALL LIBRARIES. 



IN A NEW WORLD. By Mrs. Hans Blackwood. One 

volume. (Now first published.) 6s. 
VENTURED IN VAIN. By Reginald E. Salwey, author 

of ' The Finger of Scorn,' ' Wildwater Terrace,' &c. 2 vols. 

ADAM THE GARDENER. By Mrs. Stephen Batson, 

author of ' Such a Lord is Love,' &c. 3 vols. 

ST. MAUR. By Adeline Sergeant, author of ' Caspar 

Brooke's Daughter,' ' Sir Anthony,' &c. 3 vols. 

SUIT AND SERVICE. By Mrs. Herbert Martin, author 

of 'Bonnie Lesley,' 'Britomart,' &c. 2 vols. 



LONDON: HURST & BLACKETT, LIMITED. 



P E N H A L A 



A WAYSIDE WIZARD. 



BY 

CLARA LEJiORE, 



AUTHOK OF 



A HARVEST OF WEEDS,' * A COVENANT WITH THE DEAD, 
' GWEN dale's ORDEAL ' ETC. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. L 



LONDON : 

HURST AND BLACKETT, LIMITED, 

13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET. 

1895. 

All rights reserved. 






CONTENTS 



OF 



THE FIRST VOLUME. 



S^ 

^K 










^^ 


CHAPTEE PAGE 


^ 




BOOK I. 




I. 


Penhala's House 3 




11. 


Petrovsky takes the Reins ... 29 




III. 


The Waters titere Racing downhill to the 

Sea 67 


IV. 


He Pushed heh in — I saw it done — I'll 

SWEAR it : 104 


^ 


V. 


A Dog with a Bad Name . .139 


>„ 


vr. 


A Glimmer of D.a.'wn 166 



1 



B C) K II. 

I. John Smith washes his Face . . . 185 

11. • Part of the Shadow THAT is ON ME *. 217 

^ III. A Matter OF Mutual Obligation . 248 

IV. An Upward Step 268 

4. 



BOOK I 



VOL. I. 



PENHALA. 



CHAPTER I. 



PENHALA S HOUSE. 



Not ' Penhala House ;' mark that ; but, 
^ Penhala's House.' The name had been 
given to it by the fisher-folk of Carn Ruth 
while it was in course of building. Per- 
haps there had been a suggestion of good- 
humoured satire in their fashion of making 
a large mouthful of the words. For Carn 
Ruth had held up its hands and turned up 
its eyes in open wonder as the walls began 

B 2 



4 PENHALA. 

to rise from the ground, and show what 
sort of dwelling this was that old Joshua 
Penhala was building for himself, among 
the pines on the upland above the little 
fishing town. 

In what way had he and his forbears 
differed from themselves ? farming their 
few acres industriously, and living from 
hand to mouth as all the rest of them did, 
as far back as the mind of man could carry 
them. And now, behold ! Because Joshua 
had found out a few things about wheels 
and cranks, and such like gear, for lighten- 
ing the labour in the mines, and because 
some of the biggest mining lords had taken 
his inventions up, and spread the use of 
them to other mining centres — because he 
was getting to be talked about a little, the 
silly old man was pufi*ed up with pride, 
and was going to set up for a gentleman 
all at once. And as the Carn Ruth folks 



PEXHALA. d 

watched the walls of the stately mansion 
rise from the ruins of the old farm-house, 
and realised what sort of dwelling it was 
that their neighbour was building for him- 
self, they shook their heads very solemnly 
indeed, and expressed their hopes audibly 
to one another, that the pride of the Pen- 
halas might not come down as quickly as 
it had lifted itself up. 

But there did not seem to be much fear 
of that. The present owner of the house 
was not yet born when the house was built, 
and he was now a man of middle-age, and 
still there was no sign of financial difficulty 
among the Penhalas. Socially, too, they 
were an altogether different set of ^Deople 
to the Penhalas of fifty years ago. AVhen 
the Mr. Penhala of to-day walked or rode 
down the Carn Ruth high-street, the greet- 
ings of the people he met were of the kind 
offered by the working-classes to their 



6 PENHALA. 

' betters.' And it said much for him, being 
a new man, that they were given ungrudg- 
ingly. With all their surface radicalism, 
these sturdy Cornish folk are conservative 
enough at the core ; not quick to take up 
with new notions, and slow to dispossess 
themselves of old ; and yet, at the period 
with which this history has to do, the 
name of Penhala had made for itself a 
recognised position among all classes of 
them — fisher-folk, farmers, and fine county 
gentry into the bargain. 

A thoroughly popular man was Lance 
Penhala ; and the Cam Ruth people could 
have given no more certain proof of his 
popularity with them, than by their open- 
ly expressed regret that his son ' dedn't 
favvor un mowr.' 

' The very moral of his mother, the lad 
wor, for sure ; and 'twas a shaame, aw, that 
'twas, that he shud favvor her, w^hen nature 



PENHALA. 7 

had purvided iin weth such a braave look- 
ing clain-off Cornishman of a father by 
■way of example.' 

It was a breathless, scorching afternoon 
in July, breathless even here, on the edge 
of the Atlantic, where, as a rule, there is 
more or less agitation in the atmosphere 
the whole year through. 

It is true that Penhala's house stands 
high, and on the south-west side, where 
the pines have been cleared for a wide 
stretch, there is nothing but a half mile of 
gently sloping lawn between the windows 
and the open ocean. But even on that ex- 
posed upland, the summer air was still 
and sultry on this especial afternoon — the 
afternoon of the Carn Ruth flower-show — 
and especially was it so in there under the 
tent, which had been set up to protect the 
cottagers' cherished blossoms from the too 



8 PENHALA. 

impetuous greetings of the Carn Ruth 
breezes, whicli for once were conspicuous 
by their absence only. 

Lancelot Penhala, just finishing his in- 
augural speech, was visibly affected by the 
unusual closeness, there was a suggestion 
of fatigue in the way he supported himself 
with one hand on the table at his side, his 
voice was less resonant than usual, and 
his relief — when he reached the end of 
his ' few opening remarks,' and stepped 
down from the low crimson cloth dais — 
was obvious to every person in the little 
crowd. 

' Maaster Penhala's gettin'to lookaulder 
than he shud,' one observed, quietly, to 
another. 

And the other answered, 

' Aw, it looks like it for sure ; and 
'tain't years, nither ; he's nobbut haalf way 
between forty and fifty, caan't be; I re- 



PENHALA. y 

member the feasting and jinks at his 
christening as if 'twere but yesterday.' 

' Aw, aw !' returned the first speaker, 
' but theer's mower things than years go 
to the makking of an auld man, Jabez 
auld lad.' 

And Jabez looked wise and solemn, and 
shook his hoary head, and muttered an 
acquiescent 'Aw, aw!' under his breath, 
with a glance round him at his neighbours 
on either side, as if to assure himself 
against being overheard, and moved away 
to avoid any further conversation in the 
same strain. 

The cause of Mr. Penhala's haggard 
looks was evidently not a subject for open 
discussion among his humbler neighbours; 
but those among his equals apparently saw 
no necessity for the observance of an equal 
discretion. 

There was a new vicar at Carn Ruth^ 



10 PENH ALA. 

and his wife being young, pretty, and 
well-born, had been ' taken up ' by old 
Lady Penruddach. Whether it was purely 
from kindness of heart on her ladyship's 
part, or whether because it was such a 
delight to the old woman to have a new 
listener, to whom to retail her endless 
stories and gossip, is an open question, and 
perhaps not a very important one, since 
Mrs. Yarlstoke's pleasure in hearing the 
family histories of her husband's new 
parishioners was certainly equal to Lady 
Penruddach's in relating them. 

The two ladies wandered away from the 
tent now, upon the conclusion of Penhala's 
speech, glad to get out of the heat and 
crush. They could look at the cottagers^ 
flowers later on, when the sun was less 
powerful. Lady Penruddach said. What 
they wanted to do for the next two hours 



PENHALA. 11 

was to keep themselves as cool as was 
possible under the circumstances. 

So they took their way across the south 
slope, which was ^the name of the lawn on 
which the tent was pitched, and made 
straight for the terrace on the east side of 
the house, away from the chattering crowd 
and the overpowering scent of the blossoms, 
and, above all, away from the blistering^ 
heat of the July sun. 

Mrs. Yarlstoke swept a glance along the 
front of the grand gray-stone house as they 
went. Perhaps it looked better from this- 
particular point than anywhere. , There 
was no clear view of it from end to end 
except from the south slope. On the 
other sides, it was more or less masked by 
its sheltering belts of firs. And even from 
the avenue on the east, you only caught an 
occasional glimpse of a chimney-stack or 



12 PENHALA. 

window, until you were well up under the 
walls ; and no building shows to advantage 
without a little of the enchantment which 
distance lends to a picture. 

From the south slope you got this effect 
of distance ; and the result was charming. 

' It is a vary lovely old house,' said the 
vicar's wife, after that comprehensive look 
of hers. ' It seems a thousand pities that 
there should be no lady to preside over its 
affairs. How long has Mr. Penhala been 
a widower. Lady Penruddach?' 

' Have you some fascinating little friend 
in your mind's eye for the vacant post, my 
dear?' asked Lady Penruddach, with a 
shrewd smile on her worldly old face. ' I'm 
afraid Penhala is a hopeless case. His 
wife has been dead nine years, and he has 
never shown the faintest desire to replace 
her.' 

' And has he no female relation who 



PEXHALA. 13 

would play housekeeper for him?' Mrs. 
Yarlstoke chose to ignore her new friend's 
innuendo ; it was not in the best taste, she 
thought. ' Xo cousin nor sister who would 
come to him ? A woman does so much to 
civilise a home, I think.' 

' Xo ; he has no female relation what- 
ever. At the present moment the house of 
Penhala consists of the man we have just 
been listening to and his only son — a lad 
of twenty — a shockingly spoilt boy.' 

There was a touch of disgust in Mrs. 
Yarlstoke's manner as she answered : 

^ Oh, yes ; Fve seen the son. He has 
attended choir practice every Wednesday 
night since we have been here.' 

' Choir practice !' snapped out Lady 
Penruddach. • What on earth is John 
Penhala doing at choir practice ?' and she 
turned a quick suspicious look on the 
pretty pleasant face at her side, as if she 



14 PEXHALA. 

half expected to find the answer there. 

Mrs. Yarlstoke laughed a little as she 
met the look, but the laugh in no degree 
lessened the disquiet of her manner. 

' That is just what I have been asking 
myself lately,' she said. ' He certainly 
does not come to sing, neither does he come 
•out of civility to the vicar or me, for as 
often as not he does not even bid us a Good 
-evening. But he comes as regularly as 
the rest of them ; and I am a little worried 
about it. I don't think it ought to go on ; 
and yet it is difficult to see how to stop it. 
If we had been here longer it would be 
different — it is so difficult for new people 
— folks will say we are mischief-makers. I 
Avish I knew what to do for the best.' 

' I suppose it is that little minx, Hagar 
Polwhele,' said her ladyship ; and when 
Mrs. Yarlstoke bent her head by way 
of reply, the old v»^oman gave a snort of 



PEXHALA. 15 

disgust, and settled herself in a garden 
chair, and shut down her parasol in a 
series of vicious jerks, which expressed her 
opinion of the whole affair sufficiently well 
without the aid of words. 

' I had heard something of this before,' 
she said, presently; 'but because it came 
to me through the servants, I tried not to 
think anything of it. Mrs. Polwhele is a 
London woman, and the Carn Ruth people 
don't like her : so I thouoht there mio^ht be 
a spice of spite in this story against her 
dauo^hter. I thought the o-lrl was s^oin cr 
to marry the man who sings tenor in the 
choir — that giant from the Cluth-hoe mine ?' 

'Morris Edyvean, you mean. I believe 
there was something of the sort, until 
young Penhala came on the scene. I sup- 
pose it is natural that the girl should pre- 
fer to be seen home by a gentleman ?' 

' I suppose it is natural she should be a 



16 PENH ALA. 

little fool,' retorted the elder lady. ' How- 
ever, I mean to put a stop to the nonsense. 
It is not a pleasant matter to interfere in, 
but somebody will have to do it, unless 
the thing is to go on to the usual ending. 
I should be sorry to see the boy make a 
fool of himself. A lad with old Joshua 
Penhala's blood in him should do better 
than that. I'll speak to his father myself; 
before I go home this afternon.' 

Mrs. Yarlstoke was a little surprised at 
the temerity of this decision. 

' I'm afraid it will be a very unpleasant 
thing to do,' she said, with the air of 
gentle decorum which seemed to her the 
proper thing for the occasion. 

But Lady Penruddach smiled like the 
toughened old warrior she was. 

' Pooh ! That side of the question 
doesn't trouble me,' she said. ' It is only 
that one would rather not be the first per- 



PENHALA. 17 

son to create dissension between father and 
son. Lancelot Penhala has simply wor- 
shipped that boy.' 

' Still,' protested the parson's wife, with 
her primness a little accentuated, to show 
that she held to her own view of the ques- 
tion, ' still it would certainly be less un- 
pleasant to discuss the matter with a lady. 
It is such a pity the boy has no female re- 
lation that one can go to.' 

' I don't think poor Henrietta Penhala 
would have been of much use in such an 
affair as this in any case,' observed Lady 
Penruddach, with a slight movement of 
her fat shoulders. ' She was the only fe- 
male relation the lad ever had, except his 
mother ; but nobody would ever have 
thought of consulting her in such an affair 
as this ; she muddled her own matters so 
hopelesly.' 

Mrs. Yarlstoke looked interested. 

VOL. I. c 



18 PENH ALA. 

' This boy's aunt, was she ?' she asked. 

'Yes; his father's only sister — one of 
the prettiest creatures I ever saw, but as 
flighty as a kitten. Did you see that tall, 
€lumsily-built man, with the deep-set eyes 
and the square jaw, who stood behind 
Lancelot Penhala, when he was making his 
speech just now?' 

' You mean the man with a quantity 
of crisp fair hair ? Yes, I noticed him ; 
a peculiar looking man I thought him.' 

'That is Stanislaus Petrovsky, the man 
poor Henrietta Penhala ran away with. I 
was very surj^rised to see him here to-day. 
Lance Penhala has received him once or 
twice in London, but this is his first ap- 
pearance down here, in the family strong- 
hold.' 

' ^Yas it a very romantic affair?' asked 
Mrs. Yarlstoke. ' Petrovsky — a Russian 
name, is it ?' 



PEXHALA. 19 

' Russian or Polish, or something of the 
kind. Romantic? Well, I daresay that 
is what Henrietta thought it when she ran 
away with him, but I am afraid the poor 
soul had time to alter her mind during 
her two years of married life. I believe 
they were in absolute want during the last 
year of her life/ 

' Want ! But surely she had money?' 
' My dear, yes. But Petrovsky got rid 
of it all in no time. Don't ask me how, 
because I don't know. I have heard a 
whisper that he is mixed up with some of 
these secret societies in Russia, and that 
would account for the disappearance of 
the money. I know that he was a political 
refugee when Henrietta married him. He 
had to leave Russia in a great hurry to 
save his head, and they confiscated his 
estates in his absence, so he must have 
done something very bad. When he first 

c2 



20 PENHALA. 

came over he gave riding-lessons in Lon- 
don, just to keep the wolf from the door. 
He is a gentleman, yoii know — a prince, I 
believe he is really — and when Henrietta 
met him in society she fell in love with 
him at first sight, and arranged to take 
riding-lessons, which she did not want, 
from him. Well, he was poor, and in 
great trouble, and he can be most fasci- 
natino: when he likes, and his eves are 
perfectly wonderful when you are near 
him, a brilliant, dark blue, and the com- 
bination of attractions was too much for 
poor Henrietta Penhala. In less than a 
fortnight from the date of her first riding- 
lesson she was missing. Then came a 
telegram announcing her marriage to 
Petrovsky, and there was an end of her. 
They went on the Continent at once — the 
wretched man found it more convenient 
for his treasonable practices, I suppose — 



PENH ALA. 21 

and the next thing we heard of her was 
that she was dead — died almost in want, I 
believe — and that she had left a week- 
old baby boy behind her. When Lance 
heard of it he wanted to have the boy, 
to bring up with his own. There was 
ten years' difference in the boys' ages, but 
he thought it would do Master John good 
to have another child in the house. But 
for some reason or another Petrovsky re- 
fused the offer, and chose to drag the 
child about with him from j^iH^i' to post, 
among the scum and sediment of European 
political society, and a delightful young 
scamp he has become by this time, I 
expect.' 

'He is still alive?' 

' Oh, yes. He is here with his father. 
I have not seen him, but I hear he is a 
wonderfully precocious lad ; far too old 
for his age. But then what else could you 



22 PENHALA. 

expect from his bringing-up. He is out 
yachting with John. Be-cahned, I sup- 
pose they are, or we should have had 
the pleasure of their company. When I 
saw^ Petrovsky here this afternoon, I 
thought of the boy at once. Is it on hi& 
account his father is here ? Petrovsky is 
as deep as the sea — he is not here for 
nothing. Is he going to bleed Lance 
Penhala ? I hope Lance won't give him 
a penny, not even for the boy. Whatever 
money passes into his possession is meltedin 
the one crucible — The Cause. If Lance is 
wise, and w^^nts to do the boy good, he will 
pay his school-bills direct to the school- 
master, and not let Petrovsky have the 
fingering of a single coin.' 

' You think he would appropriate it to 
his own uses ? Surely he would not 
be so dishonest, Lady Penruddach ?' 

Lady Penruddach smiled again. She 



PEXHALA. 2^ 

found the freshness of the parson's decorous 
little wife rather amusing, even while she 
half-doubted its genuineness. 

' These conspirators have another name 
for it, my dear,' she said. ' lA^hat we 
ignoramuses would call dishonesty, they 
call patriotism. " The Cause " is their 
whole creed ; and nothing else — honour, 
truth, honesty — is of the slightest conse- 
quence by comparison. On other matters 
their ideas of rio;ht and wrono^ are as clear 
as yours or mine perhaps, it is only when 
the good of The Cause is in question 
that the rules which govern other people's 
conduct have no meaning for them. This 
man, Petrovsky, for instance — if Lance 
Penhala were to hand a thousand pounds 
over to him for the education of his boy, 
he would consider it his sacred duty to 
pass it on at once to one of his rascally 
centres, for the manufacture of bombs, or 



24: PENHALA. 

the printing of seditious pamphlets. 
There is not one of them who would not 
sell his soul for money, if the price offered 
were large enough to compensate The 
Cause for the loss of a supporter. It is a 
grand idea, too, when you take the trouble 
to look into it. It is martyrdom under 
another name ; one of the last real en- 
thusiasms left to us in this over-civilised 
nineteenth century. 

Mrs. Yarlstoke opened her pretty brown 
eyes at this expression of approval ; she 
was beginning to think that the people in 
the parish she had left must be a little 
behind their generation. But though she 
was startled she was candidly interested. 
It was delightful to find herself in contact 
with a person of the Petrovsky type. The 
experience was altogether new to her. The 
parish in which she had lived since her 
marriage, was one of those quiet, humdrum, 



PENH ALA. 25 

correct communities, whicli go on their 
way, year in year out, without the faintest 
^excitement to break their formal monotony. 
Tennis-parties, at-homes, and an occasional 
carpet-dance, had hitherto given sufficient 
variety to her life to satisfy her most lofty 
ambition, but those innocent forms of 
dissipation faded into insipidity by the side 
of this new experience. To hold personal 
communication with a man who was more 
than suspected of complicity in the 
nihilist movement — and a prince to boot ! 
What an enchanting piece of news to send 
in her next letter to her staid, plodding 
Essex friends ; those friends who had so 
pathetically bemoaned her fate in being 
* banished to an outlandish, uncivilised 
parish, at the extreme end of Cornwall.' 
How gladly they would have submitted to 
banishment under similar conditions. 
She was a good little thing, this pleasant, 



26 PENHALA. 

pretty matron of twenty-nine, and she was 
very determined to do her duty in that 
state of life into which it had pleased God 
to call her, but it was a fact that, for the 
present, all thoughts of parochial affairs — 
of choir practisings, and clandestine meet- 
ings between young men and women of 
great social disparity, and all such trifling 
matters — were completely driven out of 
her head by the more interesting subject 
of Petrovsky, the Patriot and Prince ! 

Some time later in the afternoon. Lady 
Penruddach, with a mind still full of the 
story she had heard from Mrs. Yarlstoke, 
contrived to secure a tete-d-tete with 
Stanislaus Petrovsky. She had come to 
the decision that, after all, men were better 
judges of these matters than women. 
Petrovsky was a man of the world, he 
would know how to handle the affair 
better than she ; she would tell him every- 



PENHALA. 27 

thing, and leave it to him to manage things 
his own way. 

If John had only been at home himself, 
the well-meaning old woman would j)roba- 
bly have gone straight to him. But John 
was out yachting, and was not expected 
home until the wind shifted a point or two ; 
for the Carn Ruth harbour was one of 
those awkward little havens, common 
enough on that stretch of coast, which can 
only be entered with safety when there is 
exactly the right amount of wind blowing, 
from exactly the right quarter. 

But for this accidental absence of John's, 
the chances are that Stanislaus Petrovsky 
would have accomplished the purpose of 
his visit to Penhala, and gone his way back 
to the Continent again, without hearing a 
word to his nephew's disadvantage. 

On such trivial chances as these, as far 
as our finite vision reveals to us, does our 



28 PENHALA. 

destiny for good or evil depend. And yet 
who dares to assert that in all God's 
scheme of creation there exists such a 
thing as chance ? 

And, even if one be found bold enough 
to assert it, how shall he prove it ? How ? 



29 



CHAPTER II. 

PETROVSKY TAKES THE REINS. 

It was in the Penhala dining-room that 
the confidential interview between Lady 
Penruddach and Petrovsky took place. 
She had asked for a cnp of tea, and he had 
taken her there to get it ; for Penhala, with 
his usnal lavish hospitality, was keeping 
open house to-day, and the appetite that 
could not find something to suit its taste 
among the variety and profusion of the 
Penhala tables, would have been hard to 
please indeed. 



30 PENHALA. 

When he had attended to Lady Pen- 
ruddach's wants, Petrovsky provided Mm- 
self with a large plateful of early 
raspberries, which he dressed with sugar 
and port-wine, and attacked with great 
enjoyment, much to the old English- 
woman's amusement. 

But she had somethino; far more im- 
portant to discuss with her host's brother- 
in-law than his infantile love of sweets, 
and she was not given to straw-splitting 
when she had once made up her mind to 
a course of action. 

In a very few minutes Petrovsky knew 
all she knew concerning the flirtation be- 
tween Hagar Polwhele and John Penhala, 
and he also knew what she suspected of 
Mrs. Polwhele's influence in the afl*air. 

' The very spirit of mischief must be in 
the boy,' she declared, irritably moving 
her fan to and fro violentlv, as if she must 



PENHALA. 31 

needs find some outlet for her vexation, 
and making herself very hot with the 
exertion. ' To think that he must needs 
go and mix himself up with that particular 
family ! I should like to o^ive him a sfood 
shaking.' 

Petrovsky smiled at her excess of 
energy ; up to the present he was not at 
all interested in the affair ; this red-faced 
old lady was doubtless exaggeratino; the 
whole thing, as her kind always did. 

' Then it is not the indiscretion itself 
which arouses your anger,' he said, ' but 
John's want of taste in his choice of the 
object.' Petrovsky 's English was perfect; 
the onlv si2:n of unfamiliaritv he ever o;ave 
was the choice of a stilted phrase now and 
again. 

' It is because I know what the girl's 
mother is,' snapped back her ladj'ship, her 
irritation increased by his cynical tone. 



32 PENHALA. 

' I hear a good deal about the Carn Ruth 
people from my maid — who is a Carn Ruth 
woman herself — and this girl's mother 
bears anything but a good character in 
the town. If she once gets John Penhala 
in her clutches, he wdll have to pay a 
pretty price to get free again — one does 
not need to be very far-sighted to see that. 
I'll be bound she has done more to en- 
courage the boy's folly than the girl her- 
self I understood the child was o^oins; to 
marry one of the captains from the Cluth- 
hoe mine. Morris Edyvean doesn't look 
the man to stand aside and give place to 
another. He'll be another person for John 
to reckon with, if harm comes to the girl. 
Altogether, Mr. Petrovsky, your nephew 
has made about the bio^o-est mess of it that 

DO 

w^as possible. I should not like to be the 
person to tell Lancelot Penhala of his son's 
folly.' 



PEXHAIiA. 3S 

'Why?' asked Petrovsky, still eating 
his raspberries with that faint smile of 
amusement on his colourless face. ' Lance 
does not take much heed of the cost, so 
long as his darling is pleased. That last 
whim of his — to go to Italy to have his 
voice trained — do you know what it cost 
his father? Two thousand pounds ! Two 
thousand pounds for a whim. What use 
is he ever likely to make of his voice ? 
Then this craze for drawino'-room mao^ic. 
They spend a small fortune on the folly. 
And now, if he has a fancy for a pretty 
face, do you think his father would refuse 
it to him, or trouble himself about the 
consequences ?' 

' Yes, I do !' Lady Penruddach was get- 
ting horribly angry with this wretched 
foreigner, who took so little interest in his 
nephew, that he could not lay down his 
spoon and give the boy's affairs a serious 

VOL, I. D 



34 PEXHALA. 

thouglit. ' I do think Peiihala would 
trouble himself very much indeed about 
this business. He has spoilt the boy, of 
course, — we all know that, — but I am cer- 
tain he would not encourage him in selfish 
vice. Lance Penhala is a gentleman, Mr. 
Petrovsky ; if John brings this girl to 
shame, and it comes to his father's ears, 
there will be permanent mischief between 
them, you may take my word for it.' 

' But it would not matter much in the 
long run, would it? However angry the 
good Lance might be, he has not the power 
to punish the boy very severely. He could 
not threaten to disinherit him, for instance. 
Your English law of primogeniture would 
step in to prevent that.' 

' You are wrong, even in that view of the 
case !' retorted the angry old woman, too 
exasperated by his persistent attitude of 
indifference, to give much heed to her own 



PEXHALA. 35 

words. ' Even from the lowest stancli^oint 
of all, John is committing a fatal error, in 
arousing his father's anger, for the Penhala 
money has never been settled. The man 
who made it all — this man's grandfather — 
left it by will to his eldest son, and he left 
it in the same way to Lancelot. The house 
and land — the old farmstead, in fact — must 
go down from father and son. But what 
good would Penhala's house do anybody 
without the money to keep it up ? And 
the money Lancelot can will as he pleases.' 
There was not the faintest show of sur- 
prise or excitement in Petrovsky's manner 
as he listened. He went on methodically 
spooning up large spoonfuls of his crushed 
raspberries and port- wine, with every out- 
ward sign of enjoyment. And yet if, at 
that moment, the luscious mess could have 
been changed by some trick into a heap of 
sea-sand, he would probably have gone on 

D 2 



36 PENHALA. 

spooning it up, without a change of coun- 
tenance, in complete ignorance of the trans- 
formation. In that earlier part of his life 
which had been spent at the Russian Court 
— before he had been compelled by an un- 
fortunate mistake on the part of one of his 
servants, as to the destination of two letters 
which he had to deliver, to fly for his life 
from the presence of the sovereign whose 
death he had schemed to encompass, even 
while in receipt of his personal favours — 
during that period of perpetual dissimula- 
tion, when it had grown to be a second 
nature with him to act always outwardly 
in direct opposition to his actual feelings — 
even in those trying years he had, perhaps, 
never experienced a more sudden surprise 
than at this moment, when Lady Penrud- 
dach made that matter-of-fact announce- 
ment — ' And the money Lance can will as 
he pleases.' 



PENH ALA. 37 

But, startled as he was, the vivid in- 
stincts of his old training were too firmly 
implanted in his nature, to allow any token 
of his astonishment to escape him. 

The money that this impetuous old lady 
spoke of so easily, the money that Lance 
' could bequeath as he pleased,' what was 
it that Petrovsky had heard about it ? 
Surely it was some great sum — great even 
in the estimation of a Russian noble ? 
Was it a cjuarter of a million sterling, or 
more ? His wife — the poor sentimental 
Henrietta — had had thirty thousand as her 
marriage portion. And of what immense 
use that thirty thousand had been ! It 
had almost accomplished one of the great- 
est ends he and his fellow- workers had in 
view — almost ! But the money had reach- 
ed its end first. That was always the way 
of it. These levers, prepared with such 
infinite pains and exquisite ingenuity for the 



38 PENHALA. 

overtoppling of dynastic oppression, perfect 
as they were in themselves, failed always 
from the one cause, want of money. Money 
was the only falcrum which would raise the 
levers, and money was the one needful 
thins: lackino; anion o^ the workers. And 
here, lying at the feet of one of the most earn- 
est of the brotherhood, was money ; heaps 
of it ; and all that Avas needed was a little 
skill in the manner of stooping to pick it 
up. Stoop ? Of course it was needful to 
stoop, it might even be needful to go on 
stooping until the back grew double, and 
it was no longer possible to recover an 
upright position at will. But of what ac- 
count was that, ao^ainst the o^ain to The 
Cause ? A quarter of a million sterling ! 
and to complain because the picking of it 
Tip might produce a pain in the back ! 

No wonder there was no longer any 
taste in the raspberries and port ! Xo 



PENH ALA. 39 

w.onder there was a rather long silence 
between the two people in the stately 
dining-room of Penhala's house. 

Lady Penruddach was enjoying her 
little triumph over her antagonist, and 
would not break the silence, imputing it 
to his inability to reply. 

It was not until the plateful of wine 
and fruit had disappeared, and Petrovsky's 
beard — flaxen and crisp like his hair — 
had been carefully cleansed from the last 
suggestion of sticky moisture, that he 
spoke again. 

'That is news to me,' he said then, 
showing at last a natural amount of in- 
terest in the subject, ' and I am surprised. 
I knew the Penhalas had not Avon their 
wealth by robbing their weaker neigh- 
bours, at the date of the Xorman Conquest, 
as so many of the Old English families 
boast of doing. I even think I knew that 



40 PENHALA. 

their money had been gained honestly, 
and that they had not always been rich. 
But, for all that, I was under the impres- 
sion that nine-tenths of their possessions 
-were bound to descend from father to son 
in the direct line, as they do in other 
famiUes. I confess this news has altered 
my view of the matter, Lady Penruddach. 
And you really believe that if Lance 
heard of John's youthful indiscretion he 
would disinherit him? Well, perhaps that 
is going a little too far. After all, it is 
nothing absolutely unpardonable that our 
dear boy has done, and we must take care 
that in his ignorance of the world he is 
not led into deeper folly, that he is not 
led into doing anything that would really 
rouse his father to such extreme measures.' 
Her ladyship gave a sharp snort of con- 
tempt ; she always declared she had lived 
too long in the world to have any faith 



PENH ALA. 41 

left in human nature, but she was dis- 
gusted all the same whenever she found a 
fellow- creature impervious to all consid- 
erations but those of loss and gain, — ' and 
if I can do John a good turn I will. I 
owe it to his father's son — Lancelot has 
undertaken the education of my boy Paul, 
Lady Penruddach ; he has behaved most 
generously to me ; I shall be glad to be 
able to make him some little return by 
freeing John from this ^x^ if he will per- 
mit me to. But you must not exj^ect too 
much from my interference, Lady Pen- 
ruddach ; boys at his age are not fond of 
taking advice.' 

' Yery well then,' said her ladyship, 
closing her fan with a snap and rising 
abruptly. 

In spite of all his elaborate caution 
there was something in the Russian's 
manner, as he announced his willingness 



42 PENHALA. 

to serve his brother-in-law, which grated 
on her sense of fitness ; the true ring was 
wanting in his declaration of good-will ; 
she instinctively mistrusted him, and 
wished she had acted on her first impulse 
and gone straight to Penhala himself. 

'• Will you order my carriage, if you 
please ?' she said, closing the discussion 
at once with a promptness peculiarly her 
own. She did not care to hear any more 
of Petrovsky's anxiety to help John, and 
there were very few people in the world 
who could make Lady Penruddach do a 
thing against her own will. 

The shrewd old woman had rightly 
guessed the Russian's motive for this visit 
to Cam Ruth. There was another big 
affair approaching a crisis, in that mys- 
terious territory known as ' Underground 
Russia,' and the lot of chief instrument 
having fallen upon Petrovsky, it had be- 



PENHALA. 4S 

come necessary for him to put his head in 
the lion's mouth again — in other words, to 
return to Russia, where, if the authorities 
once got wind of his presence there, his life 
would be measured by days. Under these 
circumstances he had at last devoted a 
little thought to his duty as a father, and 
this pilgrimage to Carn Ruth was the 
result. 

Having once obtained Penhala s promise 
to look after the boy Paul for a few years, 
there was no longer a single human 
anxiety to stand between him and his de- 
votion to any dangerous duty The Cause 
might demand of him. Paul's future once 
assured, he was willing to risk his life, or 
to lose it, at any moment, if the loss would 
advance by so much as a hair's-breadth the 
movemcDt for which he had already sacri- 
ficed so much. It was true that to-night 
he had found cause to regret that his stay 



44 PENHALA. 

in Cornwall was of necessity so limited. 
Had his time been his own, he could 
surely have put that startling information 
concerning the Penhala heritage to some 
good use. Short as his time was — for by 
that day fortnight he was due in a tiny 
village, close to the railway, on the 
borders of the Caucasian province — he 
yet hoped to do something towards turn- 
ing the news to his own purposes. If 
Paul had been but a few years older ! 
But, child as he was, he would have 
to trust him. And indeed there were 
many grown men to whom he would 
less willingly have confided a perilous 
scheme than this little lad of eleven. 
These years of association with the most 
advanced thinkers in the movement, had 
had the right effect on the boy's heart and 
mind; through and through he was just 
w^hat his father would have had him ; the 



PEXHALA. 45 

blood of the true martyr breed was already 
in him — to his boyish enthusiasm the world 
and all it held was as nothing, when 
weighed against the progress of The Cause. 
And this being so, his father had decided 
to take him into his confidence with regard 
to the Penhala heritage. 

Petrovsky sighed in spirit as he came to 
the co.nclusion. He was human, after all, 
and Paul was his only child, and it was 
hard on the boy that all the joyousness 
of his childhood should be extinguished 
by these eternal plots. These few days he 
had spent in his uncle's house, he had been 
as bright ^nd happy and thoughtless as a 
boy of his age had a right to be. It had 
seemed as though he had left all his young 
precocity, his fits of heavy thought, his 
crude, childish plans for the wholesale 
extinction of their enemies, behind him, 
with the people who had fostered them. 



46 PEXHALA. 

And his father had been glad to see the 
change, and had even felt some faint hope 
that, as the boy grew up among his mother's 
prosaic English relations, his sympathy 
with The Cause might weaken, and he might 
be allowed to develop into a peaceful 
citizen of the British Empire, contented, 
placid, and respectable. 

But now he knew this thing was im- 
possible. The Cause demanded yet another 
victim, and, though it was his own son, he 
could not withhold the sacrifice. 

AVhat he could not do himself in the 
matter of the Penhala heritage, must be 
left in Paul's hands to accomplish; in Paul's 
small hands, broad and square at the fin- 
ger tips; in Paul's hands, which would grow 
larger with the on-coming years, and 
stronger, and more capable of grasping 
and keeping a hold on what they grasped. 

And havino' come to this decision he 



PEXHALA. 47 

went clown and dined tete-a-tete with his 
host, and made himself ao^reealDle durino: 
the meal, and slept for a few hours after- 
wards — the light wary sleep that is 
habitual with these opponents of established 
authority, a sleep which leaves their sense 
of hearing still on outpost duty at the 
portals of their understanding, eternally on 
guard against a surprise. 

He was up and out again in the morn- 
ing before any of the resident household 
were astir ; his brain was too busy to tole- 
rate inaction once its need of rest was 
satisfied. He heard the stable-clock strike 
five as he descended the echoing staircase, 
and made his way out into the freshness 
of the summer's mornino-. The sultrv 
stillness of the preceding day had given 
place to a south-westerly breeze, which 
met him as he opened the terrace door, 
and wooed him with kisses sweet with 



48 PENHALA. 

the unadulterated freshness of the broad 
Atlantic. 

His life had been too full of projects 
and plans to leave him any leisure for the 
adoration of Nature ; but standing there 
this mornings in that exquisite silence, to 
which the faint murmur of the tide on the 
rocks below served rather as an accom- 
paniment than an interruption — a silence 
of which the dwellers in cities know no- 
thing — with the scented tips of the pine- 
boughs in the plantations on either side 
swinging noiselessly to and fro, and the 
grass — green here in moist Cornwall even 
at the end of July — stretching away from 
his feet in soft descending undulations, 
until it met the blue purj^le of the sea — 
jewel-fretted under the morning sunlight 
— as his senses took in the loveliness sur- 
rounding him, a faint compunction seized 
upon him, a doubt as to whether, after all, 



PENHALA. 4^ 

he had chosen the better part of life, 
whether his past record of disappointments 
was worth all he had spent on it. And, 
even as the doubt rose in his mind, he saw 
the yacht — John Penhala's yacht, with its 
young owner and Paul Petrovsky on 
board — slip into view round the green 
outline of Tregarron Head, and straight- 
way the mind of the plotter was back 
among its familiar work again, and the 
touch of rsgret was done with and put 
away, as a thing that has no use. 

The breeze was very light, and the yacht 
moved but languidly. Petrovsky lit one 
of his eternal cigarettes, and watched the 
beautiful little vessel glide slowly across 
the width of the Carn Ptuth inlet, until it 
passed out of sight under the cliffs at the 
foot of the Penhala slope ; then he strolled 
quietly down the incline until, at the dis- 
tance of a mile from the house, he came to 

VOL. I. E 



50 PENHALA. 

the place where the slope grew suddenly 
steeper and descended abruptly to the sea- 
shore. 

It was at this point that the Carn Ruth 
river threw itself into the sea ; making its 
way down the face of the slope, by a series 
of short leaps and deep pools, to the strand 
below; and it was by the side of these falls 
that the steps leading direct from the 
Penhala park to the Penhala landing-stage 
had been cut. Not the best place that 
could have been chosen for them, perhaps ; 
for when the autumn and winter rains had 
swollen the little river to three times its 
summer height, and the water dashed over 
the rocky ledges with a force and volume 
that would have carried a horse's body, 
without pause or hindrance, from the up- 
lands above to the ocean below, the spray 
from the dashing waters was apt to make 
the steps slippery. They were arranged 



PEXHALA. 51 

in short fligiits, certainly, lout the spaces 
between the flights were still on the slope, 
and, given a slip on the topmost step, the 
chances were all in favour of a roll from 
top to bottom of the steep incline. 

Looking at the pathway now, danger 
was the last thins^ it would have suo^orested. 
Here and there down the face of the cliff 
were little nooks or hollows, where the 
ferns and grasses grew breast-high, and 
where the Carn Ruth sweethearts were 
fond of sitting in the summer evenings, to 
watch the sun set over the mighty stretch 
of the Atlantic waters ; while the path 
leading inland — through the plantations to 
the main drive — was a positive dream of 
beauty, because of the overhanging sha- 
dows of the pines, mirrored in the still- 
ness of the deeper pools, the flashing lights 
that were caught and tossed skywards 
again from the rapids between, and the 

E 2 



52 PENHALA. 

luxuriance of the undergrowth, which was- 
allowed to follow its own sweet will un- 
checked by the hand of man. 

As Petrovsky waited there, where the 
path and the river emerged in company 
from the shadow of the pines, and went 
on their way in company over the edge of 
the slope to the sea, the romance of his 
surroundings struck him yet once again. 
It was an ideal spot for lovers' meetings. 
He could imagine the youthful couple 
standing a little way back on the edge of 
the large black pool, which lay so treach- 
erously still in the shadow of the pines^ 
scarcely a dozen yards distant from the 
first leap down the face of the rock, while 
they exchanged their poor little vows of 
eternal constancy. Yes, it was quite an 
ideal place for lovers' meetings ; for, if she 
proved unkind, was there not the steep 
slope close at hand, from which he could 



PENHALA. 53 

leap straight from the cruel one's presence 
into eternity? 

As the sound of voices rose from the 
face of the cliff beneath his feet, warning 
the waiting man of the approach of those 
he had come to meet, he smiled cynically, 
and muttered a mental jibe at his own 
folly. Twice in half-an-hour he had been 
guilty of a touch of sentiment. What 
did such an unusual thing portend, he 
wondered ? 

With a careless shrug of his shoulders 
he turned again to the downward path, as 
two faces came into vicAv, mounting from 
the steps below ; one a small reproduction 
of his own, all but the beard — flaxen- 
haired, sallow-skinned, square-jawed, full- 
lipped, with eyes deep-set and of a dark- 
blue colour; the other less remarkable, 
but more agreeable. A good, well-tanned, 
English skin, chestnut hair, well-opened 



54 PENHALA. 

brown eyes, a suggestion of fair hair on 
the upper lip, a mouth which looked at 
its best when smiling, and a chin which 
one would expect to find under such a 
mouth — massive chins and flexible lips 
are not often found in one another's 
company. 

The mobile lips flashed into a ready 
smile now, as their owner glanced upward, 
and saw the Russian waiting at the top of 
the steps. The boy at his side did not 
smile, but his eyes deepened and flushed 
under their overhanging brows till his 
whole face was alight with feeling, and he 
sprang up the few remaining steps almost 
at a bound, in his eagerness to clasp his 
father's outstretched hand. 

Petrovsky stooped and kissed his fore- 
head, and giving his left hand into his 
ardent young clasp, held out his right to 
the more leisurely climber. 



PEXHALA. 55 

' You must not estimate him as a baby, 
John, because he is so glad to see hi& 
father again,' he said, half-apologetically. 
' We have not often been separated for 
two days and nights, have we, Paul ?' 

' Oh, there's not much of the baby 
about him,' declared John, heartily. ' Al- 
ready he's as good a yachtsman as I. We 
have arranged that he is to be my sailing- 
master, as soon as he has finished with 
Rugby.' 

' Only when you don't want me, father,' 
put in the boy, hastily ; and a faint colour 
flashed into his face, and he drew an inch 
or two nearer his father's side, as if to 
assure him that he was still first in his 
heart and mind. ' It is grand being out 
in the yacht, but I don't want to be there 
if you want me to be anywhere else.' 

Petrovsky laughed gently as he turned 
by John's side for the homeward walk. 



56 PENH ALA. 

• Cousin John will hardly thank you 
for such a bargain as that,' he said. ' Per- 
haps it would be wiser to defer the con- 
tract until we see what the next few years 
have in store for us all.' His tone changed 
a little as he continued, ' Your father was 
disappointed that you were not back in 
time for the cottagers' flower-show yester- 
day, John. I suppose you were becalmed 
a long way out?' 

'A pretty good distance,' John answered, 
carelessly. * It would have been a good 
long pull for the men in the heat; and 
Paul and I were so pleasantly occupied 
that we did not care to break up our after- 
noon.' 

' 1 have learnt three tricks, father,' put 
in Paul, eagerly; ' how to swallow an egg 
whole and fetch it out from the top of my 
head, how to bring a live bird in a cage 
from the crown of a hat, and how to pro- 



PENHALA. 57 

duce any card you ask for from the pack. 
Jolin is going to show me some more by- 
and-bye. He says ' 

' Chut !' said Petrovsky. ' He will make 
you as enthusiastic over his drawing-room 
magic as he is himself. It is a pity you 
were not here yesterday, John, to give a 
display of your skill to the wit and fashion 
of Cam Ruth. And that reminds me,' he 
added, and turning suddenly to Paul, he 
sent him forward on some trifling excuse, 
and bade him wait for them at the terrace- 
door. 

' That is not the only reason why it was 
a pity you were not here yesterday,' he 
-continued, when the boy was beyond ear- 
shot. ' Do you know why I came down to 
meet you this morning, John?' 

John's ready smile came at the question. 
He was a little inclined in his heart to 
make fun of his uncle, to call him a nine- 



58 PENHALA. 

teenth century Guy Fawkes, and to poke 
sly jokes at his bombs, and mines, and 
plottings, and conspiracies. He was smil- 
ing now at tbe touch of mystery in his 
manner, and saying to himself that the 
man was such a born conspirator, that he 
could not discuss the most everyday affair 
without making a secret of it. But he was 
a Penhala guest, and a guest, too, not in 
the most flourishing circumstances, and 
John was too courteous to chafl* him as he 
would have liked. 

' Had it anything to do with Paul ?' he 
asked. ' Did our long absence make you 
anxious ? Perhaps you came down to see 
for yourself that the little chap was all safe 
and sound.' 

He was still smiling as he made the 
suggestion, a pleasant, sympathetic smile 
it was, and meant to show that he could 



PENHALA. 59 

quite understand the father's anxiety under 
the circumstances. 

' No,' said Petrovsky. slowly ; ' Paul 
was scarcely in my mind : it was you I 
was thinking of, not Paul. I came to meet 
you because I wanted to say a word or two 
to you in private, without the fear of being 
overheard. Especially I wanted to avoid 
any chance of your father overhearing 
what I am going to say.' 

John, with his hands in the pockets of 
his loose blue serge trousers, and his 
peaked yachting-cap pushed rakishly to 
the back of his head, turned a glance of 
enquiry on his companion. Had he really 
anything important to say, or was it only 
that his inveterate habit of mystification 
would not be shaken off? 

Petrovsky answered the look with one 
of shrewd intelligence. 



60 PEXHALA. 

' People were busy with your affairs in 
your absence yesterday,' lie said. ' Who 
is this Hagar Polwhele, whose name is 
being mixed up so freely with yours ?' 

The blood flashed up to John's hair- 
roots. Just for an instant he tried to laugh 
the attack off as not worth attention ; but 
Petrovsky's investigating glance was on 
him, and he knew that flush had betrayed 
him, and so, instead of laughing the thing 
down, he fell into a passion. 

' Whose slanderous tongue is at work 
now ?' he cried. ' Is it that Morris Edy- 
vean again ? I'll make the bullying brute 
pay for it if it is. I told him last time 
that I wouldn't put up quietly with any 
more of his interference. Because he's 
the biggest man in the parish, he thinks 
he can dictate to the lot of us ; but knock- 
ing a man down isn't the only way of 



PEXHALA. 61 

wiping out a grudge, as I'll soon prove to 
him if he doesn't leave me and my affairs 
alone.' 

With the rapid insight born of his past 
training, Petrovsky pieced this defiance on 
to the hint dropped by Lady Penruddach, 
and drew his own inferences. 

' Then Miss Hagar has two strings to 
her bow,* he said, quietly; 'and this 
Edyvean is the other ; and there is a little 
ill-blood between you ; and there was 
some truth after all in the little story I 
heard the birds whispering to one another.' 

John said nothing. His little flash in 
the pan was over, and he was wishing he 
had held his tongue. Petrovsky looked 
up the slope at the house, where Paul 
stood leaning on the terrace balustrade 
waiting for them. It was not yet six 
o'clock, and the little lad was the only 



62 PENH ALA. 

sifirn of life to be seen alons: the wide low 
front of the sleeping house. 

' I wish we knew a little more of each 
other,' he went on, letting his voice fall 
to a more confidential key, though indeed 
there was no possibility of their being 
overheard; ' as man to man I should like 
to speak candidly to you — but we are 
such strangers ' 

' All right !' said John, as he paused. 

John was feeling savage, but he did not 
feel justified in sulking with Petrovsky ; 
perhaps the subtle touch of flattery in the 
phrase, ' as man to man,' addressed by a 
man of Petrovsky's age to one of his own, 
may have also influenced him. 

' All right ! Fire away ! Well take the 
intimacy for granted. Say what you want 
to say.' 

' Well, then, it is this. Drop the Pol- 
whele afl'air. Don't risk its getting to your 



PEXHALA. 63 

father's ears. Leave her and the other 
fellow — what is it ? Eclyvean — to make a 
match of it ' 

' I wish to God I could !' burst forth 
John, irrepressibly, and stopped dead, 
with Petrovsky's penetrating eyes on him. 

' So bad as that ?' he muttered. 

John pulled his cap forward, as if the 
sunshine had 2:rown suddenly too strono: 
for his eyes, and stared moodily at the 
grass at his feet. 

' It's as bad as it can be,' he said. 

There was a short silence between them. 
The elder man's eyes left the gloomy 
young face for a moment to travel in a 
rapid comprehensive glance around him, 
at the house, the pasture lands, and the 
little town nestling at the foot of the 
brown cliiFs on the other side of the inlet. 
All of it Penhala property, all of it some 
dav to belona* to this bov, unless ! 



64 PENHALA. 

Another flash of his eye towards the 
solitary little figure, waiting so quietly on 
the terrace in the shadow of the house ^ 
and then 

' What do you mean to do ?' 

' There is only one thing to be done.' 

' You would marry her ? . . . . Good 
heavens, John, you must not do that!' 

'What then?' asked John, lifting his 
miserable young eyes from the ground. 
'Cut my throat? I don't see any other 
way out of it. Perhaps you don't know 
what a woman's reproaches are like ' 

' Pish !' said Petrovsky, refusing to 
waste argument on that j)art of the sub- 
ject. ' Look here ! What if you could stop 
the reproaches,without sacrificing yourself?' 

' What if I could put Magara into a 
thimble ?' came the hopeless reply. 

Petrovsky put his hand on the other's 
shoulder. 



PENHALA. 65 

' What would you say to the man who 
showed you how to do it ?' 

John did not answer, but a glimmer of 
hope shot into his glance. 

The Russian threw another half furtive 
look towards the waiting figure on the 
terrace. 

' Come over under the trees,' he said ; 
' nobody will see us there ; what I'm going 
to say can't be said in a breath.' 

John turned without demur, and follow- 
ed him across the grass to the shadow of 
the pines, with an increased air of hope- 
fulness in his face and whole bearing. 

And an hour later when the gardeners 
came bustling about the lawns, anxious to 
remove all traces of yesterday's disorder 
before the master came on the scene, Paul 
was still on the terrace, waiting patiently, 
as he had been bidden. 

But for his impregnable faith in his 

VOL. T. F 



€6 PENH ALA. 

father, he might have believed himself 
forgotten ; but he knew better than that. 
He had heard it said that ' Stanislaus 
Petrovsky never forgot,' and of his own 
knowledge he knew the saying was true. 
So he waited patiently, as one who waits 
with a purpose. 



67 



CHAPTER III. 

THE WATERS WERE RACING DOWNHILL TO 
THE SEA. 

Ox the clay following their long interview 
in the plantation, John Penhala and Stan- 
islaus Petrovsky travelled to London to- 
gether. The decision on John's part was 
quite sudden, but there was nothing to 
object to in it. 

Though Petrovsky had not spoken openly 
of the danger he was going into, there was 
an impression in Penhala's mind that his 
brother-in-law's anxiety to secure little 

f2 



68 PENH ALA. 

Paul's future, arose from his doubt concern- 
ing his own. On one occasion he had gone 
so far as to say the chances were all against 
his ever revisiting England, speaking in a 
quiet, unemotional manner which gave his 
words the impress of truth. 

Under these circumstances, Penhala had 
been glad when John decided to go to town 
with his uncle, 'to see him off;' for, mis- 
guided though his efforts appeared to the 
Englishman's law-abiding understanding, 
he would not have neglected one of the 
smallest duties of hospitality towards a 
man who was so obviously ' down on his 
luck.' 

So John and the Russian journeyed to 
London together, and when, two days later, 
pretty Hagar Polwhele also left Carn Ruth, 
on a visit to her mother's relatives in Lon- 
don, nobody thought of associating the two 
events, for Petrovsky's companionship 



PENHALA. 69 

seemed to prohibit such a suggestion. 

Later in the year people were not so 
reticent, but before then many things had 
happened. And, as far as the Penh alas were 
concerned, one of the most important of 
these was the imprisonment and execution 
of Petrovsky. He was caught red-handed, 
and he died as he had always wished to 
die — for the good of The Cause. 

Paul was at Rugby when it happened, 
and Penhala went himself to break the 
news to the lad, hoping by his presence to 
soften the boy's feeling of desolation. 
But, by some unknown means, the news 
had already reached Paul before his ar- 
rival, and the kind-hearted Cornishman 
was considerably nonplussed by the young- 
ster's unnatural bearing under the blow. 

' It was a good death to die,' he said, 
standing up straight and steady before his 
astonished uncle, with a still, quiescent 



70 PENHALA. 

glow in his deep-set eyes. ' If I could 
choose how to die, I would die that way 
too ; but not yet. I will get to be well 
known first, as he was, and then my death 
will do good, as his will. When we die 
like that we make the people's hearts burn 
with the hope of revenge, and they count 
their own lives as straw, and it is worth 
dying for, to make them feel like that.' 

Poor Lancelot Penhala looked at the boy 
in a ridiculous perplexity. Conventional 
condolences would be thrown away upon 
such a truculent young revolutionist as 
this. He made a few remarks to the elFect 
that Paul would know better by and by^ 
and that he was to look upon him as his- 
father in future, and to consider Penhala's 
house his home. And having done his 
duty in this respect, he got himself out of 
the youngster's presence as quickly as he 
decently could. 



PEXHALA. 71 

In spite of its tragic nature, the absurd 
incongruity of the situation tickled his 
sense of humour. He had come to comfort 
this child in his grief for the loss of his 
father, and the child had tacitly rebuked 
him for believing he was such a fool as to 
grieve at all. It was Lance Penhala who 
was the babe, and Paul Petrovsky who was 
the philosophic man of the world. And 
Lance had made himself responsible for the 
up-bringing of this budding revolutionist I 
He beo;an to understand somethino^ of the 
hen's distress, when the duckling she has 
hatched takes to the water. Revolution and 
its tricks and manners were not at all in 
Penhala's line. He comforted himself, how- 
ever, with the reflection that Paul's enthu- 
siasm would probably fade with time ; 
time and disuse. Certainly it would re- 
ceive little encouragement at Rugby; for 
if there was one place in the world more 



72 PENH ALA. 

than another where such high falutin' was 
likely to be knocked out of the boy, that 
one place was an English public school. 

So Lancelot returned again to his big 
house on the Cornish upland, and tried to 
fill his life with his duties to his neigh- 
bours, noble and simple. But those 
autumn months hung heavily, for he was 
accustomed to John's company at this par- 
ticular season, and this year John had 
chosen to absent himself more than usual 
from the neighbourhood of Carn Ruth. 

It was in the nature of things that Lance 
Penhala, being the person most concerned 
in his son's absence, should be the last to 
hear a hint as to its cause. Folks in the 
town had been talking busily for weeks 
before a breath of the rumour reached his 
ears. 

Hagar Polwhele w^as back in her mother s 
bar aofain, though the women declared it 



PENH ALA. 73 

■was past tlieir knowledge to understand 
how she had the face to show herself 
among the customers, in the place where 
she had been born and bred. 

And Mrs. Polwhele, meeting the elliptic 
glances of some of them, tossed her head in 
R way that puzzled, even while it shocked 
them. On one occasion, when these mean- 
ing glances had been more than usually 
trying to bear, she lost her self-command 
for a moment, and, addressing nobody in 
particular, observed that she thought Carn 
Ruth folks might safely leave her to fight, 
ay, and to win, her daughter's battles 
without any of their interference ; which 
remark naturally set the tongues wagging 
faster than ever. 

And Morris Edyvean still came regu- 
larly every evening, and smoked his pipe 
quietly in the parlour of the ' Miner's Rest,' 
and saw and heard all there was to see 



74 PENHALA. 

and hear ; and said nothing. But there 
was a certain grimness settling on his face, 
which was something new in his mates' 
knowledge of him. Though he came so 
persistently among them, he showed so 
plainly his desire to be left alone, that 
there was no choice left to them in the 
matter ; and it grew to be no uncommon 
thing for the young overseer — once the 
most popular man in the Cluth-hoe mine 
— to pass an entire evening smoking 
and drinking alone in his corner, with- 
out exchanging a sign of comrade-ship 
with his fellows, beyond a curt nod as 
they entered or left the room. 

Since Hagar's visit to London at the 
end of July, he had finally given up 
singing in the choir, greatly to Mrs. Yarl- 
stoke's regret ; for the loss of his magnifi- 
cent voice and his imposing figure created 



PEXHALA. Id 

a vacancy which she was likely to find 
some difficulty in filling. 

And it was not until a few days before 
Christmas, that the first faint breath of 
this brooding mischief reached the ears 
of the lonely man in the big house on 
the hill. And even then, so delicately 
was the truth hinted at, that if he had not 
been peculiarly sensitive in all matters 
concerning his son, the chances are that 
he would have still remained in ignorance 
of what the speaker intended to convey. 
But the introduction of John's name into 
a discussion had at any time the effect 
of quickening his perceptions to an extra- 
ordinary degree, and so it was that the 
half word let drop in his presence had an 
effect the speaker scarcely anticipated. 

It was at the weekly meeting of magis- 
trates that this awakening came to him, and 



76 PENHALA. 

his way home afterwards led him past the 
^ Miner's Rest.' 

Hagar, with the sleeves of her loose red 
flannel blouse rolled up above her dimpled 
elbows, and with a large, white bibbed 
apron muffling her entire figure, was 
busily at work among the glasses and 
bottles on the shelves behind the bar. 
when Mr. Penhala pushed open the swing 
door leading from the street, and, coming 
down the two steps, crossed slowly to the 
counter. Hagar, facing the mirror, recog- 
nised the broad shoulders and handsome, 
clean-shaven features of her mother's land- 
lord at a glance, and, with a stifled ex- 
clamation, caught with both hands at the 
edge of the shelf just above her head, to 
save herself from falling. Perhaps for 
ten seconds she hung there, insensible to 
everything but the terror of the thought 
that she must face round, sooner or later, 



PENHALA. 77 

and supply the wants of this unAvelcome 
customer. 

The bar was empty but for themselves, 
and the silence in the quaint, gay little 
place was more pregnant with meaning 
than the most impressive speech. Indeed, 
when speech came, the height of the crisis 
was past. The consciousness of this came 
to Hagar instantly, with his first word. 
The studied unconcern of his tone told 
her that much — that he had not come to 
make his accusation. With a dry sob of 
relief she loosened her clutch on the shelf, 
and faced round to him. 

' Will you give me a glass of your best 
ale?' 

Instinctively she performed her duty, 
caring for nothing only that he should 
not attack her openly, while he had her 
there, defenceless, at his mercy. As her 
hand closed round the pump-handle in 



78 PEXHALA. 

drawing his ale, she felt, rather than saw, 
his glance fix itself on a ring she wore on 
the third iinger of her right hand. The 
terror of the knowledge went through her 
like a pang of physical pain ; still she 
would not mind so long as he did not 
attack her to her face, while she was 
there alone with him. As she went to- 
wards him with his glass in her shaking 
hand, she felt to the innermost core of 
her being the full meaning of the com- 
prehensive glance he threw over her, from 
the 2)retty rings of dark hair above her 
forehead, to the hem of the big, white, dis- 
figuring apron. But, conscious as she was 
of her shame in his sight, even this emo- 
tion was pushed into the background by 
her overpowering relief at the every-day 
tone of his ' Thank you.' 

She would probably have a sharp attack 
of hysterics when he was gone, but mean- 



PENH ALA. 79 

time she took his shilling, and passed his 
change back to him, and went and fetched 
her duster from the back of the bar, where 
she had left it, and made a show of dust- 
ing the pump handles, heedless of her own 
death-like pallor, heedless of her shaking 
hands, caring for nothing, except that this 
courteous, observant gentleman, should 
take himself off without saying what she 
had, at the beginning, feared he had come 
to say. 

Poor, frivolous little Hagar, caring for 
nothing but the joy or pain of the jDresent 
moment ! Poor, feeble little ephemera ! 
It were well that you should not outlast 
the trembling joy and triumph that is hid 
away in your heart just now, for all its 
quaking at this alarming encounter, that 
you should not see the going doAvn of 
the sun on the day of your transient 
exaltation. 



80 PENH ALA. 

When Lancelot Penhala found himself 
in the light of day again, he groaned 
aloud. He was not conscious of it him- 
self, but a wee child passing looked up 
at him, with so much sympathetic sur- 
prise in her small face, that he guessed he 
must be making himself conspicuous in 
some way. Pulling himself up sharply, 
he set a guard on himself, and gained the 
shelter of his own house without arousing 
further curiosity. 

Both the boys were due home that day 
— John between two and three, Paul not 
until nine. John had hinted at a desire 
to spend Christmas in town, but his father 
had put pressure on him to induce him to 
come home for the festive season. He was 
doubly glad now that he had. 

Luncheon, usually at two o'clock sharp, 
had been put off till the young master's 
arrival, and Penhala, instead of meeting 



PEXHALA. 81 

him in the hall, according to invariable 
custom, awaited his coming in the library ; 
a well-used room in that house, for the 
master was a real lover of books. 

John knew part of the truth before he 
got to his father's presence. He read it 
in the butler's troubled face, as he stood 
at the top of the steps in the great porch ^ 
holding the house door wide for him, and 
saw corroboration in the man's anxious 
manner, as he told him the master was 
waitino^ in the librarv for him. 

John's step was lighter than his heart as 
he ran down the length of the big hall and 
round a side passage to the library door. 

How he managed out of the difficultv. 
even for the time being, heaven, or the 
other power, alone knows. His lies must 
have rained like hail. He certainly did 
succeed in staving off his father's wrath at 
the moment, though he must have known 

VOL. I. G 



82 PENHALA. 

such weakness could only add to the 
trouble in the future. 

' Very well,' said Penhala, at the close 
of the interview, ' I accept your explana- 
tion upon one condition — that the girl re- 
turns your mother's ring to you to-night. 
If you have had no hand in the mischief 
that is brewing there, if you handed the 
ring to her in a moment of folly, because 
she wanted to see how a diamond ring 
looked on her finger, if there is nothing 
more in it than that, there can be no real 
difficulty in making her return it. Come 
to me this evening with the ring in ^^our 
possession, and I will try to believe what 
you tell me. Let us drop the whole thing 
now, if you please. It sickens me. I 
hope to God you may never again make 
me feel as I felt when I saw that 
child wearing your mother's ring this 
morning. I'm not sure that my aifection 



PENH ALA. 83 

for you would stand many such wrenches 
— not at all sure/ 

Morris Edyvean arrived at the ' Miner's 
Rest ' earlier than usual that evening. It 
still wanted a quarter of six when he came 
into the bar, kicking his boots free of 
trodden snow at the door ; for the weather 
had broken since sunset, and there was 
<3very promise of a real, seasonable Christ- 
mas of the good, old-fashioned type. 

When he had rid his boots and coat of 
snow, Edyvean made his way as usual to 
Mrs. Polwhele's end of the bar — Hagar 
and he never showed consciousness of each 
other's presence in these days — and asked 
for his usual dose of whisky. He stood 
there for a minute or so talking to Mrs. 
Polwhele,with his shoulder towards Hagar, 
persuading himself pitifully that nobody 
saw his hungry eyes watching the girl's 
reflection in the mirror facing him. It 

g2 



84 PENHALA. 

was the only sight he ever got of her now 
— these stolen glances in the looking-glass 
behind her mother's bar — but, even so, he 
saw that of her which he would gladly 
have given bis two hands not to see ; that 
which made him set his teeth close on the 
stem of his short pipe, and register many 
a vow of vengeance against some unnamed 
person, in the fulness of time. He was 
only holding off till events justified his 

suspicions, and then He could afford 

to wait, he declared doggedly; there was 
nothino' else left to him now but to wait. 
Ay, to wait till his chance came, and then 
to take it — to take it to the full, and let 
the Afterwards care for itself. 

While he stood there, exchanging ori- 
ginal remarks with his hostess on the 
seasonableness of this sudden fall of snow, 
keeping meantime his furtive watch on 
the mirror behind her, he saw one of the 



PENH ALA. 85 

stable-lads from Penliala's house come up 
to the counter, and pass a note across to 
Hagar. As she turned a little aside to 
read the line or two of the enclosure, he 
watched the face of his whilom sweetheart 
carefully, lifting his glass, and sipping 
slowly at his grog meanwhile. 

Was it anger or gladness that brought 
the quick warm blood flashing up into her 
face as she read, till she looked for the 
moment like the bright, thoughtless Hagar 
of a year ago ? 

The flush was still there when she 
slipped the letter into her pocket, and 
watching her opportunity, when her mother 
was unoccupied for a moment, called her 
to the back of the bar, and evidently 
communicated the contents of the note. 

Edyvean, with his glance openly on the 
mirror now, for there was no longer any- 
body at leisure to observe him, made out 



86 PENHALA. 

that Mrs. Polwhele was first indignant and 
then furious at what Hagar was saying to 
her ; that she argued and remonstrated 
with all her might against some proposi- 
tion of her daughter's, and that it ended 
in Hagar's open defiance of her mother's 
authority. The final words of the argu- 
ment were spoken loud enough for every- 
body in the bar to hear. 

' Go your own wilful way then ; only, if 
harm comes of it, don't come to me to set 
it right, for I'll have nither pairt nor 
passel in the mucky mess, and so I tell 
ee.' 

It was only when under the influence 
of strong emotion, that Mrs. Polwhele 
allowed herself to slip into the use of the 
Cornish vernacular. 

Hao^ar scarcely waited to hear the finish 
of her mother's ultimatum ; she swung 
round and passed hastily out of the bar^ 



PENHALA. 87 

throwino' an upward glance at the clock 
as she went, as if to remind herself that 
she had no time to waste. 

As Mrs. Polwhele turned to resume her 
duties to her customers, Edyvean picked 
up his glass and moved away from the 
counter to his usual corner, on the other 
side of the bar. Setting his glass on the 
window-ledge, he reached up in his usual 
manner to relight his pipe at the bracket 
over his head — scarcely a ' reach up ' for 
him because of his enormous height. 

But when his pipe was fairly under way 
he did not seat himself immediately ; he 
stood there until Mrs. Polwhele was thor- 
oughly occupied again, and then he moved 
over to the door, and stood an instant or 
two reading an account of a forthcoming 
Christmas feast, that was hanging against 
the wall there j and the next time the 
door swung open to admit a customer, he 



88 PENHALA. 

caught it, and passed out before he let it 
fall-to again. It was almost as if he 
wished to get away without drawing 
especial attention to the exact moment of 
his exit. 

Once outside and beyond the glare of 
the tavern windows, he paused a moment 
to turn up the collar of his pilot coat — for 
the snow was coming down in earnest now, 
and the sensation of melted snow trickling 
down inside one's coat collar is something 
of a trial, to the most philosophic man 
alive. 

Standing there in the shadow, Edyvean 
glanced up and down and across the street, 
as if looking out for some particular object, 
but as he crossed over to the other side of 
the road, there was a dissatisfied dawdle in 
his way of moving which showed he had 
not found what he was looking for. Here 
he waited, pressed well back against the 



PENH ALA. 89 

projecting corner of one of tlie irregularly 
built houses, until lie saw Hagar, w^ell 
muffled up and carrying a lantern, come 
out of the house opposite, and start off at 
a smart walk up the hill, in the direction 
of Penhala's house. 

Then he drew a deep, big breath, and 
treading cautiously, though indeed the 
snow underfoot was already thick enough 
to deaden his footsteps, he stole after the 
little figure ahead. 

Creeping along in that stealthy manner, 
with bent back and shoulders hunched up 
to his ears, his huge form looking larger 
than ever ao^ainst the backo;round of univer- 
sal whiteness surrounding him, his outlines 
blurred and indistinct as they loomed 
through the fast falling snow, there was 
something almost suggestive of the super- 
natural in his whole entourage ; or there 
would have been had anybody been there 



90 PENHALA. 

to receive the suggestion. But they had 
the road quite to themselves, those two 
figures, the robust and the fragile, the one 
a patch of light ahead, the other a mass 
of shadow in the rear, and they passed^ 
unnoticed by the eye of man, up the hill, 
in at the gates, and about a third of the 
way up the drive that led from the east 
lodge to the main front of Penhala's 
house. 

Here the road crossed, by means of a 
handsome little stone bridge, the Carn 
Ruth river, and it was on the far bank of 
this river that the pathway leading to the 
cliff and the Penhala landing-stage lay. 

Hagar paused on the bridge and lifted 
her lantern above her head, and whistled 
shrilly, and waited, listening. But only 
the sighing of the pines, and the hoarse 
sullen roar of the sea beating against the 
foot of the cliffs, and the swift hurrying 



PEXHALA. 91 

rush of the river under her feet, answered 
her. 

In front of her the drive stretched away 
round a bold curve to the house, sheltered 
on either side by the wide-reaching planta- 
tions ; which had been mapped out sixty 
years ago by old Joshua Penhala, to shield 
his new house from the biting blasts from 
the east. Running away from her on her 
left, in a direct line for the sea, was the 
river, bordered on either side by these 
same pines until it neared the brink of the 
clifF, and took its final eager leap into the 
open ocean. 

Because of the continuous curve of the 
drive neither the house nor the lodge could 
be seen from the bridge where Hagar 
waited. Only the road itself lay white 
and smooth for a short distance before and 
behind her, until it passed out of sight 
round the crowded boles of the pines. The 



92 PENH ALA. 

plantations themselves were as yet free of 
snow underfoot, for there was no wind, 
and the snow lay still where it had fallen, 
on the interlacing branches of the trees 
above. 

It was very dreary there alone, with 
never a sign of human-kind in sight — for 
the man's figure in the rear, keeping well 
beyond the radius of light from the lifted 
lantern, was invisible among the tree- 
trunks — and the waiting girl, looking 
keenly about her, up and down the curve 
of the white road, and in and out and 
about among the blackness of the pines, 
grew suddenly conscious of her utter 
loneliness, and a horrible shudder seized 
her and shook her from head to foot. She 
whistled again and the sudden fear at her 
heart was discernible in the quavering 
weakness of her whistle. 

But her alarm was over for the present, 



PENH ALA. 93 

for at that second whistle a tall, lissom 
youth, in gaiters and jacket, came leaping 
through the shadow to her side, pouring 
forth an eager string of apologies and 
regrets as he came. 

' What an awful night to bring her out 
into ! AVhen his note was written, there 
was no sign of this beastly break in the 
weather. Had there been he would have 
come down to her, instead of bringing her 
up to him. But he wanted so much to 
have a long talk with her without fear of 
interruption ; and it was so sweet of her to 
come in spite of the snow.' 

Still holding forth with affectionate 
solicitude, he drew her in under the trees 
out of the storm, and relieved her of the 
lantern, and taking off his cloth cap, used 
it to flick the snow from her shoulders and 
bosom. And then he turned with his arm 
round her, and led her along the trodden 



94 PENHALA. 

path, by the brink of the brawling river. 

And the figure on the other bank kept 
pace with them, moving along in the shadow, 
srlidin^ from tree to tree, never far from 
them, but, because of the noisy rapids be- 
tween, never actually within ear-shot. 

They had gone perhaps half the distance 
along the path leading from the drive to the 
edge of the cliif when they stopped, and 
the lantern was set on a crag overhanging 
the rushing stream, from whence it threw 
its lii2:ht downwards on the swirlin^', hiss- 
ing waters beneath. From here could be 
heard the sound of each separate billow as 
it broke against the cliffs below. There 
had been a spell of westerly gales lately, 
until to-day, and now, at high tide, as the 
towering breakers came rushing landwards, 
flinging themselves furiously against the 
first obstacle they had encountered since 



PENH ALA. 95 

their birtli in mid-ocean, the influence of 
those blustering clays was making itself 
felfc from end to end of that exposed 
Cornish coast, so that the very earth 
seemed to vibrate with the accumulated 
force of the billows' thunderous blows. 

' It's a rough night at sea,' said Hagar, 
still with some sign of disquiet in her face. 
It was as if the sudden scare that had 
fallen upon her up at the bridge ten min- 
utes ago, had left its mark behind it in the 
dilation of her eyes, and the quickened 
rise and fall of her bosom. ' I'm glad 
there's no one near or dear to me on the 
water to-night, John.' 

John did not answer immediatelv. He 
stood with his hands tucked in the belt of 
his shooting-jacket, staring moodily at the 
streaks of light flashing in and out, out 
and in, among the hurrying rapids at his 



96 PENHALA. 

feet. And then, gathering hhnself to- 
gether with a burst of desperation, he set 
his back towards the lantern against the 
rock, and faced his difficulty. 

' Why have you not told me about the 
visit my father paid you this morning, 
Hagar ? ' 

She left off listening to the thunder of 
the billows — it was curious w^hat a fascina- 
tion they had for her to-night — and turned 
to him wath a touch of self-assertion in her 
manner. 

' I think I might put the same question 
to you, John. I was waiting for you to 
introduce the subject.' 

He waived the childish quibble aside 
with a touch of impatience. 

' How did he behave to you?' 

' Just as Mr. Penhala might be expected 
to behave to Hagar Polwhele. Just that, 
and nothing more.' 



PENHALA. 97 

' And yet he has heard — somethinor, 
Hagar.' 

' I guessed that the instant I saw his 
face at the open door. What else would 
have brought him to the " Miner's Rest " 
for a glass of ale ?' 

' It has put me in a devil of a fix — his 
springing a mine on me in this way. I 
had an awful scene with him when I got 
home this afternoon.' 

'And you had to tell him everything?' 
asked Hagar, a sudden eager expectancy 
leaping into the glance she gave him. 
' Does your father know that I'm his 
daughter-in-law, John ?' 

She could not see the expression on his 
face, but he struck at the ground with his 
heel with a vicious petulance, which was 
as good as a sight of his eyes. 

' You didn't,' she said. ' You broke 
your promise. You gave me your word 

A'OL. I. H 



98 PENHALA. 

that, if anybody accused me to your father, 
you would clear my name. And you Ve 
not done it.' 

There were warnings of tears in her 
Yoice, and he put his hand quickly on her 
shoulder with a comforting gesture. 

' Come now, Hagar, what is the use of 
going over all that ground again ? I give 
you my word that my father does not 
think so badly of you as you imagine. 
Your main backsliding in his sight is that 
you serve the Cluth-hoe miners with pints 
of ale with my mother's ring on your 
iinger.' 

She drew off her woollen glove as he 
spoke and looked admiringly at the hand- 
some ring. She even held her hand 
up so that the stones should catch the 
light from the lantern ; and the watcher, 
behind a tree on the other side of the 
stream, gnashed his teeth in silent frenzy 



PEXHALA. 99 

?is he cauglit the flash of the brilliants, 
and saw the passionate admiration in the 
girl's face. 

' I saw him look at it,' she said. ' I 
was half-afraid he would ask me to give 
it up.' 

' That is just what he wants,' struck 
in John, snatching eagerly at the open- 
ing. ' He wants you to give up the ring.' 

She closed her hand sharply, and put 
it out of sight under her cloak. 

' You're not going to ask me to do it, are 
you ? You told me I should wear it until 
I was able to wear my wedding-ring open- 
ly ; you're not going back on your w^ord, 
are you?' 

He laughed drearily as she hid her 
hand. 

' You don't suppose I'm going to take it 
from you by force ! If you won't give it 
up willingly, you must keep it. But I 

H 2 



100 PENHALA. 

warn you, if I don't show that ring to my 
father to-night, it will mean ruin for us 
both; 

'Ruin?' she echoed. 'How, John?' 
She had never seen her gay, adoring 
young husband in this mood until now, 
and she was startled by it. ' I don't want 
to do you any harm,' she went on ; ' and, 
after all, whether the ring is on my finger 
or not, it don't make any real difference, 
does it?' 

She drew her hand from under her cloak 
and be2*an to fino^er the ring^ caressino^ly. 
And he, seeing that she was going to yield, 
was overcome by a sudden spasm of shame, 
so violent and overwhelming, that he spoke 
out the very thought that was in his heart, 
without any heed for the consequences. 

' AYait a minute, Hagar!' he cried, with 
a gesture of passionate repudiation. ' I 
can't cheat you out of the ring under false 



PENHALA. 101 

pretences — I've been a blackguard to you 
— I can't take the ring from you till you 
know, my dear. I've been a mean, coward- 
ly cur, but, as there's a God above us, I'll 
make reparation !' 

' Reparation ?' she repeated, and stood 
transfixed ; her hands, in the act of draw- 
ing off the ring, raised in front of her, her 
lips parted, her horrified, questioning eyes 
searching his face for denial of the sudden, 
-awful terror at her heart. 

' You wonder what I mean by " repar- 
ation," ' he went on, hurrying over his 
shameful confession, and forgetting, in his 
own misery, to break his news gently to 
the poor child before him. ' You are 
thinking that there is no need of such a 
thing between you and me. But there is, 
my darling ; bitter need of it ! I have 
done you an awful wrong, Hagar — the 
ceremony we went through in London last 



102 PENHALA. 

July was no marriage in reality — it was a 
sham affair, got up for me by an obliging 
friend ' 

He stopped, for such a cry came from 
between her blanched lips as struck him 
into silence. She lifted her hands, one on 
either side of her head, and stood so, sway- 
ing heavily, with her wide, stricken eyes 
reading the self-abasement of his face. It 
was as if she wanted to assure herself of 
the truth of what she had heard, and that 
done, she turned without a sound, as if to 
fly from him. 

' Hagar!' he cried, heart-broken at her 
shrinking. ' Hagar !' And he put out a 
quick hand to detain her. 

But with a face of loathing, she sprang 
away from his touch, sprang, in her eager- 
ness to get beyond his reach, so far back- 
wards, that her feet came down on the 
oozy slope of the river bank, and, without 



PENHALA. 103 

a cry, she slid noiselessly into the rushing 
rapids at his feet. 

The action was so instantaneous, that, 
left there alone, he stood a moment as if 
stricken into stone, rigid and helpless with 
the sudden horror of it ; but the next in- 
stant his senses and the use of his limbs 
came back to him, and with a despairing 
cry of ' Hagar ! Hagar ! My love ! my 
love !' he dashed along the path towards 
the brink of the cliff. 

And on the other bank, unseen by him, 
there was also a figure flying for dear life 
in the same direction. 

But the waters were racing downhill to 
the sea, and the night was dark as Erebus. 



104 



CHAPTER IV. 

HE PUSHED HER IN — I SAW IT DONE — I SAW 
IT DONE, i'lL swear IT ! 

If he had given himself time to reason, 
John Penhala would have known how utter- 
ly futile was that straining, tearing rush 
along the river bank. 

At this point of the stream it was danger- 
ous work for a man to attempt wading, 
going into it steadily with a wading pole, 
how then could a girl, slipping in unawares, 
without foothold or warning, be expected 
to stand against the rushing waters ? 

But one does not reason at such 



PEXIIALA. 105 



moments. It ^vas mere instinct that 
prompted that mad, blind dash down the 
stream through the darkness. Passing thus 
suddenly out of the light of the lantern, 
he could see absolutely nothing, and an 
occasional snow-flake drifting into his eyes 
through an opening overhead, did not 
serve to make his eyesight clearer. 

It was wonderful that he kept his footing 
as long as he did, wonderful that he was 
not tripped up in his first dozen steps, in- 
stead of keeping his feet till he was out of 
the plantation and on the smooth grass land, 
where the snow showed white through the 
gloom against the blackness of the river. 
It was here, as he neared the first short 
flight of steps leading down the face of 
the clifl", that he lost his foot-hold, and fell 
into space. 

He threw out his hands as he went, 
crashing, bounding, flying downwards, but 



106 PENHALA. 

they caught at nothing ; and he knew he 
was going head-long down to the sea. 
Then came another crash, with a sound in 
his ears like the blow of the blacksmith's 
hammer on the anvil, and a flash like the 
blacksmith's forge before his eyes, and then 
silence. 

The first thing he was sensible of, when 
the physical agony of a return to con- 
sciousness was over, was the roar of the 
surf in his ears. Awfully near it was, but 
the fact of its nearness conveyed no terror 
to his mind ; his understanding was not yet 
alert enough for that. The next thing he 
knew was that sundry hard points were 
penetrating the skin of his face, and causing 
him considerable inconvenience. He lifted 
a languid hand, and found he was ly- 
ing face downwards among the trailing 
branches of a bramble bush. With some- 
thing of an efi*ort he rolled over on his 



PENHALA. 07 

back, and stared straight up above him. 

There was a moon somewhere ; she was 
not visible, but over-head the heaped-up 
hurrying clouds were white wdth her light ; 
and here and there, where the edges of the 
moving masses did not overlap each other, 
an occasional flash of starlight struck 
momentarily on his sight. Then the 
bramble branches above him moved slight- 
ly, and a little mass of dislodged snow fell 
on his face. 

His reason asserting itself little by little, 
he began now to wonder how it had come 
about that he was out there, asleep, on this 
bitter night — began to ask of himself what 
the circumstances were which had led to 
this extraordinary state of things. His 
brain did not respond immediately to this 
demand upon it. For a few seconds he lay 
there asking the question, but unable to 
answer it. And then, in one blinding, 



108 PENHALA. 

vivid, flash of memory, the whole string of 
events leading up to his fall flashed com- 
plete into his mind, in one instant of time 
his brain shook off its puzzled bewilder- 
ment, and he passed from a state of idle 
enquiry to one of the most perfect, the 
clearest, the most appalling recollection. 
He saw the whole scene again, down to 

the minutest detail : the girl's fi2:ure fac- 
es o 

ing him, with the light of the lantern re- 
flected in her pretty dark eyes, as they 
gazed at him wide with horror, the flashing 
colours in the diamonds on her uplifted 
hand, the duller flashes from the rushing 
waters at her feet, the dim mystery of the 
background of crowding pine boles behind 
her — not a feature of the picture was miss- 
ing from his memory. Again he heard her 
quick little cry of anguish as she realised 
the full extent of his crime ao^ainst her, 



PENHALA. 109- 

again he saw the swift turn from him, his 
quick step forward, her backward spring, 
her noiseless slip down the bank, and the 
sudden emptiness of the picture. Once 
more he saw himself standing there, mazed 
and helpless in that awful solitude, once 
more saw himself tearing along the river 
path in the darkness, once more felt him- 
self trij) and fall, flying through space, 
downwards to the sea, and felt the stun- 
ning blow on his head, which had stopped 
his descent some way down. He even 
remembered hearing the ringing sound 
his head made in contact with the edge of 
the steps. That was what had knocked 
him senseless. 

And he had lain there how long ? 

He had no means of knowing, but some 
time must have passed since his fall ; the 
snow-flakes were driving in his face as he 



110 PENHALA. 

dashed along tlie river bank, now the night 
was fair. 

The knowledge that, in any case, he had 
lain there senseless long enough to shut 
out the faintest possibility of rescue for 
Hagar, came upon him with a new shock 
of misery. 

She was dead — jDoor, pretty Hagar Pol- 
whele was dead ! His mind, never entirely 
free from self-condemnation since he had 
allowed himself to be talked into the ex- 
pedient of a sham marriage, was now one 
vast expanse of agonised remorse. The 
wrong done to the living girl seemed a 
thousand times intensified, now that it had 
become a wrong against the dead. If he 
had but done her justice, the horror of her 
death would have pressed less intolerably 
upon him. 

He turned his face to the ground again. 



PENHALA. Ill 

unconscious of the acute discomfort of his 
surroundings, and lay there, with his head 
clasped in his hands, moaning in a mental 
anguish which could not be endured in 
silence. 

For some time his moans were the only 
sounds that broke the monotony of the 
shrill swish of the cascades at his side, 
and the hoarse roar of the surf a hundred 
feet below him. 

When his head had struck against the 
step, he had bounded off into one of the 
sheltered, fern-filled recesses which abutted 
on the pathway, one of those well pro- 
tected nooks which the wind blew over 
but did not penetrate, and where last 
summer s growth of ferns still stood, green 
and waist-high, behind the tufts of tough, 
feathery tamarisk that waved on the edge 
of the ledge. 



112 PENHALA. 

No snow had made its way into this 
sheltered cavity, beyond one or two drop- 
pings from the vegetation on the faee of 
the cliff above, and it is possible that John 
Penhala would have spent the night there, 
alone with his misery, but for what hap- 
pened afterwards. 

Lying there, face downwards, almost 
invisible in the diffuse light of the cloud- 
veiled moon, because of the luxuriant 
growth surrounding him, he presently 
grew conscious of a new sound, breaking 
intermittently through the thunders of 
the breakers — the sound of a human 
voice. Xow and again, in the pauses be- 
tween the mighty moan of one retreating 
wave, and the thunderous advance of the 
next, he could hear the voice quite plainly. 
And even when the deafening crash of the 
billow against the rock overwhelmed it for 
a time, it rose again the next moment, tri- 



PEXHALA. 115 

umphant over the hoarse roar of the 
defeated torrent — vehement, powerful, and 
full of menace. 

John Penhala lifted his head and 
listened. 

The voice was cominsr nearer, orrowino^ 
more continuous. He could distinguish 
now the rise and fall in the tones, as they 
came hurtling through the pandemonium 
of the rushing waters ; and now he caught 
a word or two ; and, as he heard, he drew 
himself instinctively closer, under the 
overarching growth, and held his very 
breath for terror. For he had heard his 
own name mixed up with the torrent of 
curses that were being shouted forth to 
the nio^ht, and in an instant — althouo-h till 
now his thoughts had never glanced in 
the direction of possible peril for himself 
— his instinct of self-preservation was on 
the alert, his whole beino^ vibratino- with a 

VOL. I. I 



114 PENHALA. 

new-born apprehension, his every faculty 
responding instantaneously to the call on 
his self-defence. 

It was the voice of Morris Edyvean 
that was flinging forth its curses on the 
tempestuous solitude of the night, it was 
the tread of Morris Edyvean — a furious, 
vehement tread, in exact keeping with the 
passionate incoherence of his ravings — 
that was crushing its way upwards 
through the brambles and bushes on the 
other side of the dashing watercourse, it 
was the form of Morris Edyvean that 
passed between the watcher's strained 
gaze and the whiteness of the cliff face 
beyond, with its brawny arms tossing 
heavenward, and its quivering fingers ex- 
tended towards the hurrying clouds and 
the calm unconcern of the distant stars. 

' Long ago, John Penhala, I swore to 
my Maker, with a binding oath, that if 



PEXHALA. 115 

harm came to Hagar through you, you 
should answer for it to me — now you shall 
answer for it to a mio^htier than me ! To 
one whose grijD, once on its prey, doesn't 
loosen till it's reaped its full penalty. The 
law shall deal with you, you sly. soft- 
tongued devil, and we'll see what service 
your smooth tongue and your silken man- 
ners will do you when it's a judge and 
jury you've got to stand up to, instead of a 
foolish, trusting slip of a girl. Curse 
you ! . . . Much good your leering looks 
and your soft way of speaking will do you 
then, you ... I will see to that, lad. If 
one man's swearing can hang another, as 
surely as I'm a man born of woman, you 
shall hang for this night's work. Hang by 
the neck until you are dead, and may God 
not have mercy on your soul ! Do you 
think Hagar Polwhele's death shall go un- 
punished? I've got you in my clutch at 

r 2 



116 PENH ALA. 

last, and, by the eternal God, I'll not 
loosen it till I've squeezed tlie last breath 
of life out of your fair, leprous carcase, yoit 
Sink of Iniquity, you Whited Sepulchre !' 

And as he mounted higher and higher,, 
and, reaching the brink of the cliff above,, 
passed at once out of sight and hearings 
the man below raised himself slowly and 
cautiously from his recumbent j)osition, 
stretching his stiffened limbs, ]Dushing his 
fair hair back from his throbbing temples, 
and looking about him, from side to side, 
above and below, as if wondering in which 
direction his best chance of safety lay — by 
the path to the upland above, or by a 
step over the edge to the foaming billows 
below. 

Mrs. Polwhele's desire to keep Hagar 
at home that evening had been prompted 
entirely by considerations for the girl's 



PEXHALA. 117 

health. As for being left alone to attend 
to her customers, that was a matter which 
did not trouble her at all. In her younger 
days, in a busy London tavern in the heart 
of the city, she had often had twice as 
many people at one time on her hands as 
she was ever likely to have in her own 
bar at the ' Miner's Rest.' This busy, 
buxom, bright-eyed mother of Hagar's 
was a thoroughly capable woman of busi- 
ness ; she found no difficulty in keeping 
the wants of her dozen or so of customers 
— miners and fishermen, for the most part 
— supplied as fast as they arose, finding 
time every now and again, in the midst of 
her duties, to throw a quick upward 
glance at the clock over the mirror at the 
back of the bar. 

As the time drew on towards half-past 
seven, these glances grew more frequent 
and anxious ; so much so that the quick- 



118 PENHALA. 

witted Cornish folk saw and understood 
all about ' them trubbled gleeazings at 
clock faace,' without a word on the subject 
from their hostess. 

One or two of the elder men, talking 
among themselves in a far corner, had 
almost decided to offer their services — ' if 
so be as she'd like waun or two to taake a 
look up and down the rooads for signs of 
the missing wench,' when the door was 
flung open violently from the outside, and 
Morris Edyvean, white as death, panting 
and wild-eyed, strode into the brightly-lit 
little place. 

The crash of the door, as it swung to 
again behind him, brought all eyes that 
way to where he stood ; and, as the glances 
fell upon him, the cheerful chatter changed 
at a breath to a dead silence of intense 
expectancy, while those nearest him fell 



PENHALA. 119 

back a space, as if his near neighbourhood 
were a terror in itself. 

Left thus isolated in their midst, he 
threw his big shoulders back, and swept 
the circle of horror-stricken faces at a 
glance. 

' Is't writ on ma very faace, thin?' he 
cried, the Cornish coming thick and strong 
in the presence of his every-day familiars. 

And now that they heard his voice, 
shrill and quivering with an unknown 
horror, the terror of the breathless silence 
seemed as nothing to the terror of hearing 
him. 

' Ef a man sees murder done, does the 
cruelty of et set et's maark on hes faace, 
so et can be knawn without a word on hes 
pairt?' 

Nobody made a sound. One or two 
formed the word ' Murder !' with their 



120 PENHALA. 

whitened lips, but his whole appearance 
and bearing were so awesome, his colour- 
less face, the burning hate of his ever- 
moving glance, the rock-like rigidity of 
his attitude, drawn up to his full height, 
with his clenched hands hanD-iiio* down- 
wards, and his breath coming in quick, 
audible puffs, were so terrible to look 
upon, that his listeners lost their power of 
speech, and could only gaze and wait, in 
a fear too great for words, for what was to 
come next. 

' Ay, murder !' he went on, catching that 
silent movement of their lips. ' Murder, 
I tell ee — the basest, bloodiest murder 
ever committed by the hand of man ! Yes, 
I ses et — Morris Edyvean. If any of ee 
ses I lie, lev un say et now.' 

His glance flashed round the circle of 
faces — set hard like stone masks — as he 
flung forth his challenge. But there came 



PENHALA. 121 

no answering word, and again he went 
on — 

' He pushed her in — I seed un — I'll 
swear to et ! He shall sweng ef my word 
can hang un, that shall he ! He pushed 
her in, I saay ! The w^aaters were between 
us, rushin' and roarin' like a hunderd 
devils lev loose, or he ^vud ha gone in be- 
hind her. He pushed her in and run — 
God, how he run ! If I'd w^aunce got 
how^ld on him, I'd ha' throttled un, cum- 
raades — ay, that wud I ! But hes time 
wull come. My word wull hang un, and 
I'll spaik it, aw that avuU I, befowr any 
judge in the land! He pushed her in, I 
tell ee ! And the ^vaaters swurled her 
awaay, ovver the clefF, and dow^n the faals 
to the murderous rocks and the roarin' 
sea ; an' what w^uU they leave of her 
''atween 'em, think ee? I tell ee, cum- 
raades, he pushed her in, John Penhala 



122 PENHALA. 

himself— he ded, he ded ! Hagar, Hagar !^ 
Higher and higher his voice rose with 
each denunciation, until, reaching a climax 
of frenzied hate, it dropped suddenly, at 
the utterance of the girl's name, to a hoarse 
guttural whisper, and, swinging round on 
his heel, he lunged forward, writhing in 
the convulsions of epilepsy. 

One of the Penhala servants, driving 
through the high-street a few minutes 
afterwards, on his way to the railway- 
station, to meet Paul Petrovsky, was 
stopped as he passed the ' Miner's Rest,^ 
and heard the story that was flying through 
the town. Edyvean's story, with an addi- 
tion from Mrs. Polwhele, to the effect that 
it was a letter from John Penhala that 
had enticed Hagar out that evening. The 
man went back at once as far as the stew- 
ard's house, half-way up the hill, and 
repeated what he had heard. And the 



PENHALA. 123 

steward, Eli Tregea, being a man of sound 
common-sense, called for his boots, and 
with a horrible sinking at his heart, 
tramped off to the house to interview Mr. 
John. 

Going in quietly by the entrance that 
led to the offices, he came upon Mr. John's 
own man waiting inside the door, with a 
worried look on his usually impassive 
face. 

' You're the very man I wanted to see, 
Crawford,' he said. ' Can you make 
some excuse to get Mr. John away from 
the dinner-table ? I must speak to him 
at once !' 

' He's not in, Mr. Tregea,' returned 
Crawford. * There's the master waiting 
dinner this half-hour past, and the cook 
in the devil's own temper. I thought it 
was him when I heard you at the 
door.' 



124 PENHAL^V. 

' Do you know where lie has gone ?' 
' He told me he should be in to dress 
at seven,' said Crawford, unconscious, 
apparently, that this observation was not 
an answer to the steward's question. ' ''I 
shall be in a deuce of a hurry Crawford," 
he said to me, when he went out ; "I 
can't get back before seven, and I don't 
want to keep my father waiting dinner for 
me the first night I'm home. Get every- 
thing ready for me to slip into, there's a 
good fellow, and then come down and wait 
for me at the office-door." And here I've 
been more than an hour, Mr. Tregea, lis- 
tening to the cook's refined observations on 
the virtue of jDunctuality, and what to be 
at I'm blest if I know.' 

Tregea stood thinking. He knew no 
more what to be at than Crawford himself. 
He did know that for a certainty Edy- 
vean's ghastly story would be up here 



PEXHALA. 125 

presently, and he wanted to soften the 
blow a little for Mr. Penhala if he possi- 
bly could. But he was utterly at a loss 
how to set about it. And even as he 
stood there considering, he heard voices 
in the courtyard outside, and instinctively 
put up his hand for silence. 

' If so be as we can awnly get the lad 
out o' the way, and braake the noos a bit 
gentle lek to the squire afowr she comms, 
it 'ull be something. He's that proud o'" 
that bo}^ it met go fur to braake his 
haart ef she plumps her accoosation down 
on ee all at wance.' 

' It's old Peter Carlyon,' said Tregea. 
' Show him into the office, Crawford, and 
tell him the master will come to him in a 
minute.' And, urged forward by the 
necessity for immediate action, he strode 
away to the front of the house, meaning 
to send his name in by the butler. 



126 PENH ALA. 

But he found Penhala paciiio; up and 
down the length of the inner hall, so he 
waited for him, near the fire-place at the 
lower end, where there was no chance of 
their conversation being overheard through 
the open glass doors leading into the 
entrance hall. 

Eli Tregea had eaten Penhalas bread 
for more than twenty years past, and 
never once in all those years had it tasted 
bitter in his mouth. 

This was the thought that flashed 
through his mind now, as he waited his 
employer's approach. If he had loved 
him less, he could better have performed 
the duty he had in hand. 

Perhaps this was why Penhala saw so 
quickly that there was something terribly 
wrong afoot. Tregea had not got his con- 
ventional enquiry, ' Do you know^ what's 
keeping Mr. John out so late to-night, 



PENHALA. 127 

sir?' properly out, before Penhala was 
down on him, with quickened steps and 
questioning eyes. 

' Xo ; but you've come to tell me ! 
AVhat is it, Tregea ? Any harm to the lad ? 
Out with it ! Xo breaking it softly, man !' 

Tregea answered promptly, 

' Xo harm to him, that I've heard of, 
sir, but it seems there's been an accident 
in the river above the falls — somebody is 
drowned, and people are trying to make out 
that it wasn't an accident, and that Mr. 
John ' 

'Is a murderer?' said Penhala, catch- 
ing him up as he paused. 

Already his mind had leapt to certain 
conclusions. He had guessed why John 
was late, and knowing the lad had a 
difficult task in hand — for in insisting 
on the return of the ring he had reckoned 
on the chance of its putting an end to the 



128 PENH ALA. 

foolish entanglement — lie had made allow- 
ances for his unpunctuality. And now, 
as Tregea faced him. w^ith troubled eyes 
and faltering speech, and spoke of an 
accident in the river, an accident in which 
John was concerned, he grasped instantly 
at something of the truth, and saw trouble 
ahead. 

' Who says this thing of him, Tregea? 
Who accuses him?' 

' Morris Edyvean, sir — one of the over- 
seers down to Cluth-hoe mine.' 

' And — who is it that is drowned ?' 

*• The daughter of Mrs. Polwhele.' 

'Ah!' 

' The landlady of the '' Miner s Rest." ' 

' That poor little child ? Good God, 
how terrible ! And only this morning — 
Is it certain that she is drowned, Tregea? 
Are you sure there is no mistake ?' 

' I'm afraid not, sir,' said Tregea, sorrow- 



PEXHALA. 12^ 

fully. ' It seems she went in between the 
bridge and the cliff; a bad enough place at 
the best of times ; and you know w^hat the 
stream is like just now.' 

' A torrent, Tregea ; not a stream at alL 
Poor child, poor child ! And Edyvean 
says it was not an accident, and accuses 
John. He saw the whole thing?' 

' So I gathered — but I was in such haste 
to get to you ' 

'Thank you, Tregea I It was like you.' 

He lifted his face suddenly from the con- 
templation of the glowing logs, and looked 
Tregea straight in the eye. 

' I want you to answer a question with- 
out a word of equivocation ; without a 
thought that it is my son you are speaking 
of. You know what people are saying 
about my sou and this girl ? Do you 
think it was true ? Xow ! the whole truth, 
Tregea!' 

VOL. I. K 



130 PENIJALA. 

' I'm afraid it was, sir.' 

Tregea had never wished he had been 
born dumb until that moment, when he 
saw the look his words brought into 
Penhala's face. 

But Lance Penhala was not the man to 
turn his glance aside because a thing was 
distasteful to him. He put his own feelings 
into the background, and went on unflinch- 
ingly Avith his questions. 

' Was she a respectable girl, Tregea ? 
Don't make excuses for John; only just 
tell the truth. Do you honestly believe 
John acted like a thorough-paced villain 
all through the piece ?' 

More than ever Tregea prayed for dumb- 
ness, but with those clear, steady eyes 
upon him, prevarication was impossible. 
And maybe, after all, it was better for the 
lad's father to hear all there was to hear, 
in the first place, from a friendly tongue. 



PENH ALA. 131 

' Sooner or later you'll hear it, now tlie 
poor little thing is gone,' he said, sorrow- 
fully. ' Mr. John put a cruel trick on her, 
sir. He pretended to marry her, up in 
London last July. The girl showed some 
sort of paper to my missus, under an oath 
of secrecy, and she says it wasn't a proper 
certificate.' 

' My God !' cried Penhala, his self-con- 
trol vanquished utterly by his distress of 
mind. ' My God ! Tregea, that I should 
live to hear such a thing as that of my own 
son.' 

He turned aside, and, reaching a hand 
up to a projection in the carved oak of the 
mantelpiece, he laid his head against the 
support of his arm, and muttered brokenly 
his boy's name over and over again. 

And Tregea, conscious that this was a 
trouble past the reach of comfort, could 
only stand quietly on guard, ready to pre- 

k2 



132 PENH ALA. 

vent any intrusion on his employer's grief. 

' You see, sir,' he began again present- 
ly, ' what I'm afraid of is that, if there is 
an inquiry, and this business of the sham 
marriage comes out, it will go so hard with 
Mr. John.' 

' It can't go harder than he deserves,' 
muttered Penhala, with lips that quivered 
still from the smart of this new blow. 'He's 
my own son, Tregea ; and for ten lonely 
years past he has been the only creature I've 
had to love or spend a thought on ; but I 
can't blind myself to the villainy of thi& 
business. Whether he lifted his hand 
against that girl or not, her blood is on his 
soul, and he will have to suffer for it, one 
way or another. Perhaps it would be the 
most merciful thing they could do with 
him, to hang him ! What is his life likely 
to be with such a memory as that pressing 
like a deadweight on his soul? God help 



PENHALA. 133 

him, and me ! I think my heart is broken, 
Tregea.' 

' Things mayn't be quite so bad as they 
seem, sir,' said Tregea, trying to speak hope- 
fully. But Lance Penhala shook his head. 
Knowing what he knew of the object John 
had in view^ when he made that last ap- 
pointment with Hagar Polwhele, he knew 
also that it was almost impossible for 
things to seem worse than they really 
were. 

But, thouo^h from the beo^innino^ he re- 
cognised the utter hopelessness of Johii's 
position, nobody but Tregea ever knew or 
guessed at the full depth of his sufferings. 
What he endured henceforth he kept re- 
ligiously hidden from the eye of man. All 
his pride and his affection had been bound 
up in the one object — his boy, and now 
pride and affection lay stifled in the mire 
of a base, cowardly cruelty. 



134 PENHALA. 

Sometimes it seemed to him that, if he 
had known beyond all doubt that John 
had pushed Hagar into the torrent, as 
Edyvean asserted, he could have forgiven 
even that unpremeditated crime, sooner 
than the calm, pre-arranged cruelty of the 
sham marriage. 

But after that first irrepressible outburst 
of grief, he kept his opinions shut up in 
his own mind. 

Even on that first night of his downfall, 
by the time Mrs. Polwhele and Edyvean 
arrived at the house, escorted by a dozen 
or so of the scared customers from the 
' Miner s Rest,' to make their accusation 
aofainst John, even so soon after the shock 
as that, he had assumed the curious, rigid 
self-possession which he maintained ever 
afterwards, when dealing with John and 
his backslidings. 

Of all the little crowd collected round 



PENHALA. 135 

the open door in the shelter of the big 
porch, only Tregea guessed ever so slightly 
at the anguish that lay behind the cold- 
ness of his white, stern face, the level still- 
ness of his voice, the laboured quietness 
of his manner. The poor mother's noisy 
grief dropped to silent sobbings as she 
listened to his measured words, and even 
Edyvean's frothy, hysterical denunciations 
died away to nothingness, before the quiet 
dignity of Penhala's bearing. There was 
almost a touch of shame in his manner as 
he slunk to the rear of the crowd, and leant 
against the side of the porch listening to 
Penhala. 

' What can I say to you in the face of 
such a tale of cruelty as this 3- ou bring to 
me ?' he said, with one hand on the weep- 
ing woman's shoulder,' and his troubled 
eyes on her poor, tear-blistered face. ' If 
you have lost your only child, so have I ; 



136 PENHALA. 

and I think mine is the worse case of the 
two. At least you can think lovingly of 
your child, and even that comfort is denied 
to me — my son is lost to me, soul and 
body! Even if the law pronounce him 
guiltless of this crime of murder, he is 
none the less dead to me. Henceforth 
your daughter's destroyer is as a stranger 
in his father's house, and his father's heart. 
Don't think of me as your enemy in this 
terrible calamity — John Penhala must take 
the consequences of his own acts on his 
own shoulders — let him clear himself of 
this accusation if he can, he will have no 
help from me. It is justice you want, and 
justice you shall have. In any case I will 
not throw the weight of my money and in- 
fluence into the scale against you. The 
case shall be tried on its merits, that I 
promise you.' 



PENHALA. 137 

' Then,' said Edyvean, lifting himself 
from the support of the porch, and towering 
above the rest from the rear of the crowd, 
* then he wull sweng for et, that wiill he. 
Hang by the neck till he be dead !' 

A faint stiffening of the muscles round 
his lips was Penhala's only answer to this, 
and for an instant there was silence among 
the group, as if they recognised the wanton 
brutality of the interruption. And across 
this silence, from beyond the heads of the 
little crowd, there struck the noise of 
advancing wheels, deadened partially by 
the coating of snow on the drive, and a 
boy's fresh voice broke through the gloomy 
quiet. 

' Hollo ! what's up ? Is it carols ? How 
ripping ! Here I am, Uncle Lance ! How 
jolly it seems to be at home again !' 

And Stanislaus Petrovsky himself, past 



138 PEXHALA. 

master in the art of j)lotting though he 
was, could not have arranged the thing 
better to suit his own purpose. 



139 



CHAPTER V. 

A DOG WITH A BAD NAME. 

January was nearly over when they 
brought poor little Hagar Polwhele home 
again to Carn Ruth. The body had been 
found in a narrow inlet twenty miles to 
the north. Edyvean's prophecy had come 
very near the truth — the sea and the rocks 
between them had made cruel havoc of 
the girl's prettiness, and for all actual 
evidence to the contrary, it might as pro- 
bably have been a complete stranger as 
Hagar Polwhele. There was the pretty 



140 pe:shala. 

dark hair, and the height, and there was 
also the fact that no other young woman 
was known to be missing anywhere on 
that coast. This was really all the coroner 
and the jury and witnesses had to go 
upon in forming a decision as to the 
identity of the body. 

But there are certain conditions of pub- 
lic opinion in which a very little evidence 
will go a very long way, and the condition 
of public opinion in regard to the Carn 
Ruth murder was a case in point. 

Since folks had heard of that sham mar- 
riage in London, the popular indignation 
against John Penhala had reached the 
white heat stage ; and perhaps the jury 
and the witnesses did not much care 
whether the poor, battered remains they 
were holding an inquest on, were really 
those of Hagar Polwhele or not, so long as 
Ihey provided them with an excuse for re- 



PENHALA. 141 

turning a verdict of wilful murder against 
that cruel young limb of the devil, John 
Penhala. 

Of course it was Edyvean's evidence 
that put the rope round his neck. After 
hearing what he had to say under oath, it 
only became a matter of catching the crim- 
inal and hano;ino^ him. 

All these weeks, ever since Edyvean 
had burst into Mrs. Polwhele's bar on 
that snowy December night, and de- 
nounced John Penhala as the murderer of 
Hagar Polwhele, the Carn Ruth people 
had talked of one thino-, and one thino; 
onlv — John Penhala's unmiticrated bru- 
tality. 

And young Paul Petrovsky, running 
hither and thither amono^ them durino; his 
somewhat lonely holidays, picked up a 
good deal of knowledge on the subject, 
<ilthough the topic was never openly dis- 



142 PENH ALA. 

cussed in his presence. These Cornish 
iishermen and miners were too well bred 
to make a mistake of that kind. 

But they would have been genuinely 
shocked if they had known how much 
actual information on the subject the lad 
had gathered from the fragmentary odds 
and ends he had overheard of their dis- 
cussions ; and this in spite of their desire 
to keep all such knowledge from him. 

It was Tregea who first set the boy's 
precocious wits to work. He took him 
aside that first night of his home coming, 
and warned him against mentioning John's 
name in Mr. Penhala's presence ; but he 
refused to tell why this was to be so, and, 
his curiosity thus aroused, it followed 
naturally that Paul set to work to find out 
for himself. 

It was one afternoon about a fortnight 
after the boy's arrival from Rugby, on his 



PENHALA. 143 

return from a lounge round the town, that 
he fastened himself in his own room and 
unlocked his desk — a present from his 
father — and took from a cleverly contrived 
recess at the back of the pen-tray a letter 
in his father's handwriting. 

'The eve of my execution,' was the date 
it bore, and it began with a doubt as to 
whether it would ever reach the person it 
was intended for. 

But Paul passed over all that part — he 
knew it ah^eady by heart — the admonition 
to never slacken in his devotion to The 
Cause, to nurse his Russian assiduously 
for use in the future, so that when the 
opportunity came to him, as come it 
would, to strike a blow for the liberation 
of his unhappy country, he might be fully 
qualified for any service demanded of 
him. 

All that part of the letter he knew word 



144 PENH ALA. 

for word. It was another passage he 
wanted to look at now, a passage which 
referred to the possibility of John Pen- 
hala's disinheritance. 

' If he should ever offend his father 
so grievously as to bring about such a 
disaster, the Penhala money would be- 
yond all doubt come to you. And my 
last command to you is, to bid you re- 
member that the son of your father can 
possess nothing independent of The Cause. 
We men of the Kurtz family hold oar last 
kopec in trust for the purposes of our 
masters — you, in particular, Paul, will not 
need to be reminded that everything you 
possess — health, wealth, happiness, liberty, 
life — must be held in trust only, at the 
command of our leaders, to be devoted 
directly to the advancement of our undying 
desires, and, indirectly, to the avenging 
of your father's death — the two purposes 



PENHALA. 145 

are indissoluble— in furthering the one 
you must of necessity forward the other. 
Xow heed what I arn going to tell you. 
John Penhala has, by his own action, for- 
feited all right to his father's wealth — 
never mind how, it is enough for you that 
/ know this to he so. Very well ! If, at 
his twenty-first birthday, John is still 
in favour with his father, you are to post 
the enclosed letter to your uncle with 
your own hands, without taking a crea- 
ture into your confidence on the matter. 
If, on the other hand, your uncle's eyes 
have already been opened to his son's 
true character, and there is open dissen- 
sion between them, you are to burn the 
letter unopened. John once disgraced, 
the future is entirely in your own hands, 
see that you use your opportunities.' 

"With the thin, closely-written sheets 
spread out on the window-ledge, to catch 

VOL. I. L 



146 PENHALA. 

the waning light of the January afternoon, 
and with his head supported in his hands, 
Paul pored for a long time over his father's 
explicit directions ; and when at last he 
lifted his glance to look out at the lawns 
below, and the stretch of throbbing waters 
beyond, there was a weirdly old look on 
his face, a look that would have made his 
mother's heart ache had she been there to 
see it. Was it that there was no longer 
any childhood in the lad's soul ? had his 
boyish instincts shrivelled up and withered 
away, under the fierce heat of the furnace 
through which he had passed while yet a 
baby ? Was his heart like an ear of wheat 
stunted by drouth, prematurely hardened 
and yellowed, giving forth all the outward 
tokens of maturity while there is still no 
grain in the husk ? 

Little need indeed to fear that he would 
miss his opportunities from any undue soft- 



PENHALA. 147 

€ning of the heart, any flaccid leanings to- 
wards mercy. Even now, watching the 
waters whereon John and he had spent 
those happy two days in the summer, he 
rebuked himself for remembering his 
€ousin's pleasant kindness, telling himself 
stoically that at such a moment the memory 
amounted to an act of treason against The 
Cause. A withered ear indeed, an empty 
husk, hardened prematurely for want of 
nourishment, what fruit shall you yield in 
harvest time in return for the ground you 
have cumbered ? 

The Carn Ruth Tragedy had provided 
the London papers with a splendid stop- 
gap during the dull weeks intervening be- 
tween Christmas time and the meeting of 
Parliament. With that delicate sense of 
justice so conspicuous in the English 
journalist up to date, most of them had 
from the first designated it ' The Carn 

L 2 



148 PENH ALA. 

Ruth Murder!' setting forth the title in 
heavy type day after day, and gathering 
enough details, real or imaginary, to fill a 
column. 

Between the lot of them, they kept 
the public fully informed of all that 
was going on in the obscure little Cornish 
iishing and mining town, and long before 
the coroner held his inquiry on those un- 
recognisable remains at Carn Ruth, all the 
rest of the world had finally and definitely 
made up its mind on the subject of John 
Penhala's guilt ; and many and loud were 
the outcries against the stupidity of the 
police, because of their inability to put 
their hands on the missing murderer. 
And nowhere were these outcries louder 
and more frequent than among the lower 
classes, ' the honest labouring man,' and 
his associates. 

On the day following the Carn Ruth 



PENHALA. 149 

enquiry there was a select coterie of these 
sons of toil gathered together in the par- 
lour of a small public-house at Barking. 
This delightful suburb of London owns a 
population composed almost exclusively of 
the artizan class, and from that downwards, 
with a stratum somewhere in its complex 
entirety of the maritime element. For 
Barking Creek is always more or less 
crowded with smacks, and lighters, and 
barges, and small coasting vessels ; and their 
crews are always very much in evidence 
in the streets, and shops, and bars of the 
unlovely river-side settlement. 

To-day one of these small coasters had 
arrived from Cornwall, with a cargo of 
granite from the Penrhyn quarries, and 
two members of her crew, as soon as the 
day's duties were over, made their way 
in company to the parlour of the ' Merry 
Minstrel,' to join the social circle already 



150 PENHALA. 

gathered there. Rough-looking fellows 
they were, both of them, only there was 
this difference in their roughness, that 
wdiereas one, the elder, looked as if he 
were making the best of a roughness 
natural to him, the other had the ajDpear- 
ance and bearing of one who wilfully ex- 
aggerates his inborn disadvantages. There 
was an aggressive air of blackguardism 
about him, which showed itself in his un- 
washed face and hands, his touzled head^ 
his carelessly huddled-on clothes, and his 
half sulky, half swaggering gait. There 
was that about him to-night, as he slouched 
into the flaring light of the ' Merry Min- 
strel ' bar-parlour, which seemed to say to 
everybody who was interested in the 
matter, 

' Here I am, a regular rough un ! As 
rough as you make 'em, and no pretence. 



PEXHALA. 151 

Them as don't like me as I am, can leave 
me alone, and there's an end of it.' 

The men already gathered round the 
table bore, as a rule, some signs of having 
' smartened up a bit ' for the evening's 
festivity, and, as they noted the undiluted 
ruffianism of the new-comer's appearance^ 
there was a touch of resentment in the 
glances they cast at him. 

The elder of the two was evidently an 
old acquaintance, and was greeted with 
some show of eagerness. 

' You're just the chap we re wanting, 
Joe Hellyar !' said the gentleman who oc- 
cupied the chair at the head of the table. 
' Glad to see you again ! When did you 
come up ?' 

' On this marning's tide,' answered Joe, 
shaking hands with the two or three 
nearest him, and seating himself on the 



152 PENHALA. 

end of a form as the others pushed up to 
make room for him. 

' Same cargo as usual, I suppose?' some 
one asked. 

' Saame as usual/ returned Joe. ' We 
begin unloading to-marrer.' 

' Are you come straight from Cornwall T 
inquired the chairman. 

' Ay. straaight as crass winds would 
allaow of,' returned Joe, speaking strictly 
by the card. ' We've been better nor three 
weeks beating up channel.' 

' Then mebbe you don't know the latest 
news about the murder that was done 
down your parts ?' 

' Es there any fresh news ?' asked Joe, 
a new vivacity flashing into his quick 
eyes. 'Hev the gell turned up again 
after all?' 

• She's turned up in a sort of way, yes. 
The coroner held an inquest on her body 



PENH ALA. 153 

yesterday, and the jury brought in a ver- 
dict of wilful murder against the young 
blackguard as pushed her in — Penhala.' 

' Eh, my dears, but that'll be a terruble 
day's wark for hes father,' said Joe, com- 
passionately ; and immediately there arose 
a chorus of enquiries. 

' Do you know the people at all, Joe ?' 
^ Is the place in your part of Cornwall?* 
'What sort of a chap is this John Pen- 
hala?' ' Just a slip of a girl, wasn't she, 
Joe?' 

For the moment Joe was master of the 
situation. Everyone's eye was on him ; he 
had, all in an instant, acquired a new and 
vivid interest for them, because of this 
possibility of personal acquaintance with 
the actors in the Cornish tragedy. No- 
body had a thought or a glance to spare 
for the lonely man near the door, nobody 
saw him reel back a^'ainst the wall as if 



154 PENH ALA. 

an invisible hand had dealt him a mighty 
blow, they were all too absorbed in their 
new interest in Hellyar. But he was too 
honest to make a bid for notoriety at the 
expense of truth. 

' I caan't saay as I'm parsonally ac- 
quainted with Maaster Penhala myself/ 
he said, regretfully. ' But maybe my 
cumrade, Jahn Smeth, knows summat of 
'em. Aw, Jahn Smeth, my dear,' he broke 
off, as, turning to include his friend in the 
conversation, he found him still standing 
solitary at the end of the room, ' es theare 
ne'er a plaace at tabble for ee ? Come ee 
heere, lad, aw'll maake room for ee.' 

But the unwashed man at the door 
showed no inclination to accept his com- 
rade's friendly offer. He drew a grimy 
hand from his pocket and passed it across 
his lips, as if he feared their tremor might 
arouse curiosity, and pulled his shapeless 



PEXHALA. 155 

cap lower on his brow, and turned towards 
the door. 

' I wooan't trubble ee, thank ee, Joe/ 
he answered, sullenly, his Cornish every 
whit as broad as the other's. ' Company's 
too smurt for I, lad. I'll just drink my 
pint in the bar outside, and get back to 
the boat.' 

' Aw, my dears !' said the amiable Joe, 
looking from the closed door to the faces 
round the table in great distress, ' to thenk 
of that now — and the lad's first trip out 
of hes own country too. He's a clain off 
hand on a boat, aw, that un es ; but un's 
got no manners to spaik of — how shud 
un ? He's never been now^heer's but in 
the mines and among the pilchard boats. 
Us travellers must maake allowance for hes 
want of manners, cumraades.' 

' Don't bother yourself, mate,' said the 
chairman, consolingly. ' We don't expect 



156 PEXHALA. 

politeness from uncultivated savages. The 
boy ull get learnt better by-and-by. What 
are the folks down in your ]3arts saying 
about this fine gentleman of a murderer 
at Carn Ruth?' 

John Smith out in the bar called for his 
drink, sixpennyworth of brandy, and drank 
it at a gulp, and, throwing a shilling on 
the counter, called for another. 

The woman behind the bar looked 
rather curiously at her customer as she 
supplied him wdth the second dose. 

' Have a biscuit with it,' she said, pleas- 
antly. 'You look a bit fainty like — the 
spirit will do you more good if you take 
a mouthful of something wdth it.' 

He muttered a curt ' Thank you,' under 
his breath ; but she noticed that he did 
not follow her advice, though she pushed 
the biscuit-jar invitingly towards him. 

The good-natured soul was so accus- 



PEXHALA. 157 

tomecl to slovenliness and unwaslied faces 
among her customers that John Smith's 
appearance did not horrify her to any- 
great extent ; certainly not enough to pre- 
vent her seeing that he was in ' a bit of 
trouble.' He looked pitifully desolate and 
heart-broken, she thought, and there was 
a mazed, lost look about him that went 
straio:ht to her heart and set it achino:. 

And perhaps it might have been good 
for John Smith had he been conscious of 
that one touch of human sympathy that 
night. As he waited there, fingering his 
glass, a newspaper-boy passed down the 
street; and, as he caught the shrill cry^ 
the Cornishman shot out at the door and 
bought a paper. He did not return at 
once, standing outside in the flaring light 
cf the windows to read something which 
seemed to have a very great interest for 
him. 



158 PENHALA. 

It was the account of the coroner s in- 
quest at Cam Ruth that he was reading, 
and when he came to Morris Edyvean's 
evidence his breath quickened and his grip 
on the paper tightened. Lies all of it — 
cruel, heartless, murderous lies ! But, lies 
or the truth, that evidence of Edyvean's 
would, in the absence of rebutting testi- 
mony, hang the man it was directed against 
as surely as the most unsullied truth from 
a crowd of Avitnesses. 

The reader's hand shook as he stuffed 
the paper into his pocket. The other 
trembling hand was already at his throat, 
as if he would fain rid himself of a sensa- 
tion of strangulation. Then he suddenly 
remembered the untasted brandy in the 
bar, and turned back for it. The man 
next to him was folding up a newspaper, 
and beating the packet flat with his closed 
fist on the metal-topped counter in front 



PEXHALA. lo9 

of him. A clirtv drunken sot he was, with 
* loafer ' writ large over his filthy person 
and drink-soddened face. 

• T wish it was 'ini I'd got here instead 
of this 'ere paper,' he was observing to a 
V kindred spirit, when John Smith first lent 
an ear to his conversation. ' I'd spoil 'is 
beauty for 'im. I'd pound 'im fiat as I'm 
a-pounding this paper. But now, you 
mark my words, my boy — because 'e's the 
son of a gentleman, 'e'll get off. If it was 
a poor, down-trodden, hard-workin' la- 
bourin' man like you or me what 'ad done 
it, we should swing for it, and everybody 
'ud say, " Sarve 'im light !" But it 'ull 
be quite a different thing with this elegant 
young slip of the haristocracy. The cussed 
youno' devil ! a-o:ettin round that poor o^ell 
with 'is soft voice an' 'is coaxin' ways, and 
then rounding on 'er like that as soon as 
she got a bit troublesome. Hanging's too 



160 PENHALA. 

good for 'im, tlie heartless young black- 
guard. I hope with all my 'eart and soul 
as they'll catch him, with all my 'eart and 
soul I do !' 

' Oh, they'll catch 'im,' returned his 
friend, ' and it's my opinion they'll hang 
him too, haristocrat or not. You see the 
pertickerlers of the case are so dead agin 
'im all through. They'll hang 'im right 
enough, and a good job, too. Such war- 
min as 'im ought to be cleared off the face 
of the earth.' 

John Smith did not drink his second 
dose of brandy, he left it untouched on the 
counter — forgot all about it, apparently, 
in a sudden violent desire to get out into 
the street. 

There had been a slight fall of snow 
during the afternoon, and the pavement 
was coated with inches of half-melted, foul 
slush, into which the feet sank at every 



PENH ALA. 161 

step, and the cold of whicb penetrated 
the thickest shoe leather. 

But John Smith, ploughing his way- 
through the yielding slime, knew nothing 
of the discomfort of his surroundings. The 
news of the Carn Ruth verdict had dropped 
upon him like a thunder-bolt. In the 
moments when his grief and self-reproach 
for Hagar's death had been keenest, he had 
never contemplated such apossibility as this. 
His flight had been the result of a scare, 
and, that once over, he had never expected 
to be accused of having wilfullv caused 
the death of his poor little sweetheart. 
But for the nervous collapse which had 
seized on him after the tragedy, he would 
never have allowed Morris Edyvean's hys- 
terical denunciations to scare him into the 
folly of flight. But fear had gripped him, 
and he had acted upon it, and the world 
had accepted his disappearance as proof of 

VOL. I. M 



162 PENH ALA. 

his guilt, and was clamouring for his life 
in return for that poor child's. His fel- 
low-creatures could think this thing of him 
— that he could crown his foul villainies 
towards the girl he had wronged so bitterly 
by lifting his hand against her ! 

Of what account to him were such things 
as half-frozen pavements and biting winds? 
Just then there was room in his mind for 
one desire only — to find a place where he 
could rest for a few minutes, without feel- 
ing that the people around him were men- 
tally condemning him to death ; to find 
some cranny or corner where he could 
listen to the sound of the human voice, 
without hearing himself branded as a 
murderer ; to shake ofi*, if but for a few 
seconds, this ghastly sensation of the 
world's undying enmity towards him, of 
his eternal isolation in the midst of his 
kind, this burdensome consciousness of his 



PEXHALA. 163 

own repulsiveness in the sight of his 
fellow-men, this terrible knowleclo;e that 
he was indeed an Ishmaelite, in so far that 
every man's hand was against him, and 
that he w^as an outcast and a wanderer 
from the land of his fathers, homeless, 
hopeless, and desolate exceedingly. 

Plodding along, with his hands deep in 
his pockets, and his eyes seldom lifted from 
the space of pavement immediately ahead 
of his feet, he traipsed the streets hour 
after hour — spent with fatigue, yet know- 
ing nothing of it ; exhausted from want of 
food, but unconscious of the pangs of 
hunger; chilled to the marrow by ex- 
posure to the biting north-east wind, yet 
unaware of his own intense j^^iysical 
wretchedness — enwrapped, soul and body, 
in a muddled maze of misery, which shut 
out all consciousness of his physical self, all 
thought of such trifles as comfort or safety. 

M 2 



164 PENHALA. 

Safety ! What indeed did that count 
with him in this apathy of suffering? 
Once or twice, when the thought of his 
possible arrest did glance across his trouble- 
dimmed mind, it came to him with a thrill 
that was more like relief than terror. For 
then at least this hunted feeling would no 
longer be with him day and night; he 
would no longer be secretly consumed, 
sleeping and waking, b}" the knowledge 
that the man standing next him in a public 
bar, the people who passed by him on the 
pavement, the whole population of this 
great city were, one and all, eager to hunt 
him down, would turn upon him as hounds 
upon their quarry, if they once suspected 
his true individuality. 

Safety ! If this continued concealment, 
this constant anticipation of discovery was 
safety, danger itself would be welcome by 
way of contrast. 



PEXHALA. 165 

Perhaps it was this very inclifFerence to 
danger which saved him from suspicion. 
Certain it is that, in those first terrible 
days — while the knowledge was still new 
to him, that, in the sight of his fellow- 
men, he bore the brand of murder on him 
— in those early days of the quest suspicion 
never came near him ; he passed unscathed 
through the hue and cry of search, into the 
comparative security of a disheartened 
pursuit. 

Another murder was occupying the 
public mind, interest in his capture slack- 
ened, and the police centred their atten- 
tion on the chase after the newer criminal, 
hoping by a brilliant success in this affair 
to obliterate the memory of their past 
failure. 



166 



CHAPTER VI. 



A GLIMMER OF DAWN. 



So there came a time when John Smith, 
with an increased ruffianliness in his ap- 
pearance and manners, was able to mix 
with his fellows again, without experienc- 
incr that horrible feelino^ that their hands 
were longing to be at his throat. And 
then a new terror faced him — death by 
starvation. 

The night he tramped away from 
Barking, and severed the last connecting 
link between himself and Cornish asso- 



PENHALA. 16 7 

ciatioiis, was already some weeks behind 
him in the past, when this new peril 
threatened him. The money he had on 
him had provided him with food and 
lodging of a sort — the sort which, for a 
hunted man, was safer than any other — 
until now. 

And now the first overpowering horror 
of his own position was growing dulled 
by time and familiarity, and the love of 
life — even such a life as he was living 
now, the Ufe of a rat in a hole — had re- 
turned to him ; as it was bound to do. 
And to Hve one must eat, and to eat one 
must have food, and to have food one 
must pay for it, and to pay one must have 
money, and at last there came a day when 
he changed his last shilling ! 

All his life long he remembered the 
morning afterwards, when he woke up 
with his money clasped as usual in his 



168 PENHALA. 

hand under his pillow, and, drawing it 
forth, found two penny pieces in his 
palm. 

He lay a long time that morning won- 
dering what he should do. 

The week's rent of the squalid, grimy 
den he was occupying was due to-day, and 
credit was out of the question. He shiv- 
ered as he imagined himself putting such 
a request to the slatternly grimy-faced 
shrew downstairs. At midday the rent 
was due, and at midday she would expect 
it. But for this consideration he would 
probably have lain in bed the day through. 
Hunger is less keen perhaps in bed than 
elsewhere, and he was hungry already, 
having put himself on short commons 
these last three days in order to make his 
money last as long as possible. The 
thought of facing the attack of that foul- 
tongued virago downstairs, however, was 



PENHALA. 169 

more alarming than the thought of faint- 
ing from hunger on the pavement. He 
rolled off the bed a little after eleven 
o'clock, put on his mud-encrusted boots, 
and stealing cautiously downstairs reached 
the street in safety. 

He had been lodging in one of the side 
streets off the City Road. Wandering on 
in a purposeless fashion, he turned west- 
ward when he reached the big busy thor- 
oughfare, and slouched straight along till 
he came to the ' vVngel ' at Islington. 

He waited some little time here, among 
the bustle at the corner, watching the 
people get in and out of the omnibusses, 
Avondering dully whether there was any- 
one among them whose worldly posses- 
sions Avere limited to the sum of two- 
pence, and whether any of them were quite 
so hungry as he was. But the constable 
who reorulated the omnibus traffic turned 



170 PENH ALA. 

sharply on him presently, and ordered 
him about his business — for John Smith's 
appearance at this time was anything but 
a letter of recommendation in itself, and 
the policeman probably credited him with 
designs on the pockets of the passing 
pedestrians. 

He took the command to move on meek- 
ly enough — hunger has a curiously taming 
influence on the human species — one of 
the signs of acute differentiation between 
humanity and the brutes — and held on his- 
way down the hill, past the big railway 
stations to the Euston Road. 

His hunger was approaching famine by 
this time, and yet he held back from spend- 
ing his two-pence. It formed the last 
frail barrier between him and absolute 
want ; that once gone, what lay beyond ? 
So he held on desperately, enduring the 
pangs of starvation as best he might, and 



PEXHALA. 171 

findinor some curious touch of compen- 
sation in jingling his cojjpers against one 
another in his pocket, and running over in 
his mind all the different things to eat 
which that two-pence would buy. 

When he came to the Regent's Park 
gates he dawdled about, watching his op- 
portunity to slip past the park keeper into 
the enclosure. His knees were beginning 
to shake under him, and though it was 
bitterly cold — cold with that cruel keen- 
ness peculiar to the London streets at the 
beginning of March — he had a strong 
desire to get into the park, and rest him- 
self on one of the more sheltered seats. 

By dint of perseverance and patience he 
accomplished his purpose, and got into 
the park, where he spent all the early 
hours of the cold, grey, unlovely after- 
noon, huddled up at the end of a seat, 
with his chin resting on his breast, and 



172 PENHALxV. 

his chilled hands pressed between his 
shakinoj knees, in a vain attempt to keep 
some touch of warmth in them. 

It was a conclusive sign of the utter 
hopelessness of his mental condition, that 
he was incapable of forming the slightest- 
plan for the future ; he was drifting on- 
wards towards death by starvation, be- 
cause he was too heart-broken to give 
thought to any matter beyond the fact and 
manner of Hagar Polwhele's death, and his 
own position as the cause, if not the actual 
perpetrator, of the tragedy. His mind was 
never entirely free from the thought that, 
though he had had no active hand in her 
death, he was, before God and man, re- 
sponsible for it; and with this ever present 
consciousness of guilt upon him, he had 
no courage for anything. He was a rud- 
derless vessel, without aim or purpose, 
adrift on the waters of life. 



PEXHALA. 173 

Sitting there in the bitter cold of the 
March wind, which found its way to him 
through the clumps of laurels behind him, 
he did what he had not dared to do 
durino: these two months of desolate desfra- 
dation — he looked backward, and drank 
his fill of the waters of Marah. 

He grew a touch light-headed by-and-by, 
and when a little lad, with dark curly hair 
and big brown eyes, after observing him 
shyly from the other end of the seat, edged 
up to him, and stooping, looked up into 
his face, he thought for a brief instant 
that it was Hagar, and brushed his half- 
numbed hand across his forehead in pitiful 
dismay. 

' You, at least, know that 1 didn't do it,' 
he muttered, huskily. ' Cruel though I 
was to you, 1 would have died rather than 
lay a rough finger on you, my pretty 
darlinof!' 



174 PENH ALA. 

The little child opened his velvety eyes 
in a sorrowful wonder. The beggar-man's 
talk was Greek to him, but, with the un- 
erring instinct of childhood, he recognised 
the signs of suiFering in the pinched face 
before him, and a divine pity flooded his 
pure little soul. 

* Have you been naughty ?' he asked, in 
his sweet, clear treble. ' Is some one 
angry wif you ? My g'anma says God 
is angry wif us when we are naughty. Is 
God angry wif you T 

John Smith said nothing, only gazed 
at the bonny creature in silence. 

' Ven you must be sorry,' continued the 
small missionary, ' and God will forgive 
you ; g'anma says so. Are you sorry ? 
I fink you are. Will you say you're 
sorry ?' 

' God ! yes, I'm sorry ! if that will do 
any good,' said John Smith, speaking with 



PEXHALA. 175 

such intensity that the words sounded 
more like an outbreak of ferocious anger 
than a confession of repentance. 

The child just for an instant looked 
scared at the vehemence of the sudden 
outburst. His experience of penitence 
Tvas probably confined to a less passionate 
emotion. But his fright was over in a 
breath, and he was all love and pity again. 

• I knew you were sorry,' he said, and 
he laid a warm little dumpling of a hand 
in a pretty knitted glove on John Smith's 
grimy, slender, flexible fingers. ' Here's 
a new penny for you,' he went on ; 'g'anma 
gave it to me to buy a cake wdf ; but I 
ain't a bit hungry, and I fink you are. 
God will forgive you if you're sorry.' 

• Master Claud !' broke in a woman's 
shrill voice from behind the shrubs, ' where 
are you? You naughty boy ! How dare 
you hide away ?' 



176 PEXHALA. 

Master Claud slipped off the seat and 
ran a few steps, stopping, before he finally 
disappeared round the bushes, to nod his 
lovely little head at the bent figure on the 
seat and repeat, 

' Mind you be sorry. God will forgive 
you if you're sorry.' 

John Smith sat looking at the bright 
coin in his hand. Sorry ? AYas not his 
whole life a blank expanse of hopeless 
sorrow and remorse? Sorry? The coin 
lost some of its brightness as he asked 
the useless question of himself, and he did 
not know whence came the sudden dim- 
mino; of his sio;ht, until bij? tears came 
splashing down on Master Claud's new 
penny. Ay, he w^as sorry enough ; God 
help him ! 

It was dark before he left the park. 
His craving for nourishment was so terri- 
ble by this time that he had made up his 



PEXHALA. 177 

mind to spend his money. Close to the 
park entrance there was a small public- 
house, up a very narrow passage ; he knew 
the situation quite well. The place was 
used principally by servants from the big 
houses in the neighbourhood. This was 
where he would go for his last meal. After- 
wards — perhaps he would give himself into 
the charge of the first policeman he met — 
in prison they would at least feed him. 

When he had had his bread and cheese 
and glass of beer, he stood watching a 
group of men in the next compartment, 
gathered round another who was perform- 
ing sleight-of-hand tricks with a pack of 
cards. 

The food he had eaten had not half- 
satisfied his ravenous hunger, but the 
contrast between his past and present con- 
dition was strons; enouo^h to make him 
look back with actual terror to the suffer- 

VOL. I. N 



178 PENHALA. 

ings of the last few hours. Anything, he 
told himself, would be better than a repe- 
tition of this afternoon's experience; sooner 
than go through such agony again, he 
would hand himself over to the care of 
the police, or put an end to his troubles 
for good, by whatever means came first 
within his reach. 

Having come to this decision, a curious 
«pell of recklessness fell upon him. 

' Eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow 
ye die,' he quoted to himself, as he watched 
the performer in the next division of the bar. 

He was a boastful sort of fellow, and 
after each trick he had a way of say- 
ing, ' I'll give half-a-crown to anybody 
here who can tell me how it's done.' 

John Smith, watching his movements, 
presently saw him do a trick which he 
knew perfectly well, and, without stopping 
to think what he was doing, he said as much. 



PENHALA. 179 

The conjurer — an amateur, evidently — 
dropped his jaw, and tried to get out of 
his bargain, but the others laughingly 
insisted that the unwashed gentleman 
should have a try; and John Smith was 
invited to come round to the other com- 
partment and show what he could do. 

And John Smith went, and took the 
cards into his hands and began to shuffle 
them. 

And the men gathered round him, Avatch- 
ing the smooth, easy grace of his move- 
ments, wondered at it, even more than 
at the skill of the tricks he performed for 
them. 

As he stood in the midst of the sleek, 
well-fed gentlemen's servants, with his 
head well thrown back, and a smile on his 
white, pinched face, his long chestnut hair 
falling in wavy masses on either side of 
his head, and his slender, subtle fingers 

n2 



180 PENHALA. 

working whatever wonder they willed 
among the inanimate cards, the poor, half- 
starved, forsaken-looking wretch was trans- 
formed under their very eyes, until it 
seemed to them that the mere touch of the 
cards had inspired him. 

They could not guess — how should they 
— that hunger and terror and shame had 
ceased to exist for him, that he was back 
in the past, in a brilliantly-lit room, the 
centre of a delighted circle of well-dressed 
people, living over again the pleasant ex- 
citement of a successful first appearance 
as an amateur magician, in his father's 
drawing-room. 

They were a discriminating -audience, 
for they had seen the best things of this 
kind in their masters' houses, and John 
Smith, discovering this, rose to the occa- 
sion, and excelled himself. 



PEXHALA. 181 

And when the exhibition was over, he 
found himself possessed of four shillings 
and threepence, and the pack of cards — a 
present from their defeated owner. 

And a man, who had watched the per- 
formance from the less select division of 
the bar, joined him as he left the house, 
and dropped into conversation with him. 

' I can see you're only half-clothed, and 
you look as if you wasn't more'n half-fed 
neither,' he said, after a few preliminary 
remarks. * Strikes me you must be a 
durned soft fool to get into such a state as 
that, while you've got the making of a 
fortune in them nimble fingers o' yourn. 
What's yer name, mate ?' 

' John Smith.' 

' S'help me now, if that ain't a coinci- 
dence ! I'm John Smith too ! Shouldn't 
wonder if we was related somehow. Do 



182 PENHALA. 

you want to pick up another bob or two 
with the cards before bed-time ? Be- 
cause, if you do, I can show you a likely 
pitch.' 



BOOK II 



185 



CHAPTER I. 

JOHN SMITH WASHES HIS FACE. 

Mrs. Boxfokd was delighted with her new 
lodger, and exceedingly glad of the long 
let of six weeks, reaching from the third 
week in July until the end of August. 

Mrs. Boxford's pretty cottage stood a 
mile outside Chichester, in one of the 
lovely, sheltered lanes Avhich abound in 
that part of Sussex; and at that particular 
period of the year Mrs. Boxford's spare 
rooms were usually let to people who were 
down for Goodwood races. But she had 



186 PENHALA. 

been delighted to accept Miss Fentimore 
as a lodger ; first and foremost, because a 
six weeks' let is better than a fortnight's 
any day ; and secondly, because she took 
a fancy at first sight to Mary Fentimore's 
pleasant manner, her sweet smile, and 
charming face. 

It would be something of a relief, Mrs. 
Boxford confided to her husband — Lord 
Haphazard's head-keeper — to have a pleas- 
ant, sweet-faced young woman about the 
house, instead of the loud-voiced, card- 
playing young men, who generally occu- 
pied her best parlour and two spare rooms 
during the race-week. 

Miss Fentimore had been perfectly 
frank with the good motherly woman^ 
when she came over from Portsmouth 
early in June to take the rooms. 

' She was a member of Mr. Wilfred Bur- 



PENHALA. ]87 

lington's Opera Company,' she said. ' Mr. 
Burlington had decided to give his com^ 
pany a six weeks' vacation during the 
height of the summer — from the middle of 
July to the end of August — and she want- 
ed to find quiet country lodgings for that 
time. She had been a little over-worked 
lately, singing sometimes four times a week, 
and she was feeling the need of a long 
spell of perfect rest and quietness, away 
from all the bustle and distractions of 
town-life.' 

' And you'll get it here, miss,' Mrs. Box- 
ford had assured her. 'Maybe, just dur- 
ing the race-week, you'll have to keep a 
bit close to the house of an evening ; for 
there's a queer lot of characters about the 
place just then. But once that's over, you 
can stroll about the woods and meadows 
and plantations and lanes from daylight 



188 PENHALA. 

till bed-time, and never need to so much 
as put a pair of gloves on for the company 
you'll meet.' 

' That is exactly what I want,' said 
Mary, openly delighted with the prospect, 
and the arrangement was concluded there 
and then. 

Mrs. B oxford was quick enough to see 
that this operatic artiste was likely to be a 
model lodger — quiet and regular in her 
habits, and keeping no company to speak 
of, and congratulated herself on ' a good 
summer let.' 

And Miss Fentimore more than fulfilled 
her landlady's anticipations; she revelled 
in the quiet and retirement of the country 
life, and began to ask herself, before she 
had been a week in her new quarters, 
whether she had not after all made a mis- 
take in her choice of a profession. 

Her father had been a bookseller in the 



PENHALA. 189 

city of York, a man very highly thought 
of and respected by all those of his fellow- 
citizens whose good opinions were worth 
having ; but keenness in business matters 
did not rank among his claims on the good 
opinion of his neighbours. And so it fol- 
lowed that at his death, two years ago, his 
affairs were found to be in anything but a 
flourishing condition ; and Mary discovered 
that, when everything was realised, and 
the estate cleared from debt, there would 
be an income of something less than fifty 
pounds a year left as her portion. 

Faced thus by the necessity of, in part 
at least, earning her own living, she had 
decided to utilise her voice, and so make 
capital out of the money spent on its 
training. She had already something of a 
local reputation, having made several ap- 
pearances in the choral concerts of her 
native city, and she found very little diffi- 



190 PENHALA. 

culty in obtaining an engagement in one 
of the travelling operatic companies. 

But she had not taken very kindly to 
the life. Her love for her art Avas pure 
and enthusiastic, but she found very little 
artistic enthusiasm among the members 
of Mr. Burlington's company. Singing, 
as an art, they thought very little of, but 
they thought a ^ood deal of it as a means of 
gaining applause, heaps of it, and especially 
applause that should be a little noisier or 
a little more prolonged than that bestowed 
on their companions. 

She never forgot the first time that 
Trovatore was performed after she had be- 
come a member of the company. 

She was not singing herself, but she was 
in the Green-Room, waiting to ascertain 
the hour of the next day's rehearsal, when 
the two ladies, Leonore and Azucena, passed 
through on the way to their dressing-rooms, 



PENH ALA. 191 

after taking a call before the curtain. The 
contralto, all smiles and pleasure, passed 
on with a splendid bouquet to her nose, 
the soprano flung her bouquet on the 
ground with an expression of petulant 
contempt, stamped it flat under her high- 
heeled shoe, kicked it violently against 
the opposite wall, and went ofi*, leaving 
the mangled floAvers behind her, filling 
the whole room with the sweetness of 
their dying breath. 

Mary Fentimore held her breath and 
wondered ; and two men on the other 
side of the room looked at one another 
and laughed. 

' What was Avrong with the Morelli's 
flowers to-night,' asked one. ' Weren't 
they as good as Miss Betterton's ?' 

' It wasn't that,' came the answer. ' I 
don't believe there was a pin to choose 
betw^een the two bouquets to-night. They 



192 PENHALA. 

came in tlie wrong place — that's all. She 
can't endure that Miss Betterton should 
have the first bouquet.' 

Mary listened and wondered still more ; 
such jealousy as this was something she 
could not understand. 

It was the first sample she had seen of 
Madame Morelli's furious jealousy, but she 
was to see many another, and those others 
were to concern her more nearly ; for the 
Italian prima-donna was always at logger- 
heads with the second soprano in the com- 
pany, and this was the position which Miss 
Fentimore had the misfortune to fill. Things 
had grown so uncomfortable lately that once 
Mary had gone so far as to send in her re- 
signation; but Mr. Burlington had prevail- 
ed upon her to withdraw it; for by this time 
his first and second sopranos were running 
one another close for the position of popu- 
lar favourite, and he half-hinted to Mary 



PENHALA. 193 

that, sooner than lose her, he would dis- 
pense altogether with the services of 
Madame Morelli. 

And now that she was away from it 
all — the close, hot air of the side-wings, 
the ghastly lath and canvas parodies of 
nature, the unhealthy excitement of facing 
the audience, and, above all, the personal 
attacks of her professional rival — now that 
she was here, amongst the sights and 
sounds and scents of the country, with 
God's own sweetness all about her, now 
that she found herself face to face Avith 
nature, unspoiled and unsullied by the 
influence of man, she liked the thouo^ht of 
a return to that other life less than ever, 
and longed, as she had never longed before, 
to shake herself free from it. 

She had already been a week in her 
country quarters before the race-week 
began, and brought with it that gathering 

VOL. I. o 



194 PENHALA. 

together of the dregs of society, which 
follows at the tail of a race-meeting as 
inevitably as dusk follows after daylight. 
A curious conglomeration of human 
vice and criminality it was, that packed 
itself into the sly chinks and crannies of 
the lovely old country town of Chichester, 
during those last few days of July. 

There was one troupe of five ' niggers ' 
who had started from their London quar- 
ters in the best of spirits. Perhaps, 
though, it would be safer to say that four 
were in such boisterous spirits, that the 
depression of the fifth became a negative 
quantity in reckoning up the whole. But 
then, as they all agreed among themselves, 
there was never any counting on the 
temper of ' John Smith number two,' 
from one minute to another. And this 
time they admitted that, for once, John 
Smith — better known amons: his intimates 



PENH ALA. 195 

as ' The Markiss ' — had some reason for 
being down on his luck, for only the night 
before they left London his especial pal — 
' John Smith number one ' — had gone to 
kingdom come. And those two John 
Smiths had been like a pair of Siamese 
twins — barring the inconvenient circum- 
stance of not being able to turn over in 
bed without one another's permission — for 
the last three years or more, ever since 
John Smith number one had brought John 
Smith number two, alias the Markiss, into 
the community of which these gentlemen 
Avere shining lights, and gone security for 
his good faith in the future. 

It was natural that the cove should feel 
a bit cut up at the loss of his pal, they 
agreed among themselves ; but when they 
found out, during their first day on the 
course, that this natural regret was likely 
to seriously interfere with the takings of 

o2 



196 PENH ALA. 

the firm, they grew less tolerant of their 
partner s low spirits, and told him he was 
not acting fairly by them, in allowing his 
private troubles to interfere with his brisk- 
ness in business. 

And then there happened what might 
have happened any time during these last 
three years, but for the peaceable inter- 
vention of the man who had died over- 
night. 

When the other members of the firm 
began to grumble at the day's takings, and 
hinted that the falling off* was due to the 
dulness of the man who did the conjur- 
ing business, the Markiss ' cut up rough,' 
said right out that he had had enough of 
the nigger business, and announced his 
intention of working on his own account 
for the future. 

There was a big row then, for, in addition 
to his exhibition of magic, the Markiss sang 



PENHALA. 197 

tenor in the glees, and his defection was 
likely to cause a serious difference to them. 
For a minute or two it seemed doubtful 
whether he would not have immediate 
cause to regret his declaration of inde- 
pendence ; but while two members of the 
troupe asserted their intention of ' doing 
for' the defecting one there and then, 
the other two insisted upon his right to 
follow his own inclination. 

The whole five of them were too much 
of a muchness in point of weight and 
skill, to give any two of them a chance 
against the other three, if it came to a 
scrimmage ; and so, the Markiss giving the 
casting vote in his own favour, pacific 
counsels prevailed in the end, and the 
threats of bodily violence simmered down 
to personal remarks of the usual offensive 
nature. 

' He'd been glad enough to join 'em three 



198 PENHALA. 

years ago, when lie was a babby in armSy 
and didn't know his way about.' 

' Yes ! cors why ? Didn't they know ? 
Cors it 'ud been convenient to him at the 
time to 'ide his face behind the burnt cork 
— any fool might know that. Chaps with 
white 'ands and that almighty finnicking 
way of talking, didn't join nigger minstrels 
from chice.' 

' Ah, there was something agin' him^ 
sure enough ? And, by God ! if the 
speaker could find it out, wouldn't he just 
blow the gaff on him, that was all ! He'd 
hid himself among 'em as long as it served 
his purpose, and now they could go to 
blazes for all he cared. Perhaps, though, 
he wasn't so safe out of the wood even 
now. Maybe that was why he'd grown a 
beard this last six months, and maybe 
after all he'd find a beard wasn't such a 
safe disguise as the burnt cork had been. 



PENHALA. 199 

More likely than not he'd live to wish him- 
self among his coloured friends agin.' 

But the Markiss took no notice of the 
verbal bricks being flung at him ; he made 
up his small bundle, washed his face, and 
walked out of the attic-room, down the 
ricketty stair to the street, a free man. 

He found the court where their lodo^ino^s 
were situated quite deserted when he 
reached the pavement, and even in the 
wider high-street, teeming with humanity 
a short time ago, there were no signs of 
life at this hour. Up and down the high- 
Avay, as far as he could see, there was not 
even a twinkling light in a window, to 
speak to him of human companionship, the 
whole city lay sleeping under the spangled 
purple of the solemn sky. 

Standing there, with that curiously ac- 
centuated feeling of loneliness upon him, 
which only comes to one shut off from his 



200 PENHALA. 

kind in the heart of a thronged city, with 
the stars gazing down at him from above 
the irregular sky-line of the houses across 
the way, and all around him the scented 
silence of the summer night, an emotion 
nearly akin to elation stole upon him, 
followed by a touch of wondering surprise 
at his own lightness of heart, surprise 
that he had not yet forgotten how io feel 
glad. 

Surely the heart of man must possess a 
strength of endurance, far beyond the 
power of words to convey, to have gone 
through what he had gone through, and 
yet retain the faculty of feeling glad. For 
though his gladness was sobered, even 
now, by the haunting memory of much 
that lay behind him in the past, it was 
genuine gladness, nevertheless. 

And he did well to be glad. He had at 
last broken away from the ghastly sur- 



PEN HAL A. 201 

roundings of those first years of penance. 
He had promised John Smith he would, 
and he had done it. He wondered a little 
whether stout-hearted old John knew how 
quickly the promise to him had been 
redeemed. 

' Promise me that you'll get away from 
these chaps here the very first chance you 
get,' he had said, when the doctor had left 
them alone, after telling them the end was 
near ; ' and that you'll make your way up 
to Lincolnshire, and give this bundle of 
papers into my missis's keeping. It'll be 
a f^-ood excuse for breaking with these 
London chaps. And don't come back 
among 'em again, my boy — give me your 
word you won't.' 

And the Markiss had given his word. 
And here he was, already on the way to 
fulfil it ; only he could not start off direct 
for Lincolnshire, for the reason that he 



202 PENHALA. 

had not a penny in his pockets. Because 
he had been accused of spoiling the day's- 
. takings, he had not chosen to ask for his 
share of them ; and the Markiss never had 
a penny put by. All those three years he 
had spent in the London slums, he had 
got rid of his money as fast as he earned 
it ; his free-handed recklessness having 
helped to gain for him the title he had 
borne among his blackguardly companions. 
He would have to stay out the race- 
meeting in Chichester, and make a few 
shillings to start him on his journey to his 
old friend's wife. To-night he would have 
to lie in the open — for by this time every- 
body was in bed. Well, there was not much 
hardship in that on such a night as this. 
HeAvouldgo a mile or so outside the town,, 
and creep under a hayrick, or find his way 
into the heart of a plantation — a plantation 
of pines, perhaps, with a tangled under- 



PEXHALA. 203 

growth of brambles and bracken, like one 
he remembered in Cornwall, near the cliffs 
overhano^ino^ the Atlantic breakers. 

He would enjoy lying in such a plan- 
tation as that to-night ; he would lie, with 
his little bundle for a pillow, and watch 
the stars peeping through at him, as often 
as the faint breeze of the summer night 
brushed the feathery boughs of the pines 
aside, and gave him a brief, fleeting glimpse 
of the silent glory beyond. There was a 
faint touch of something at his heart to- 
night that was almost like a promise of 
returning peace — peace for him, who had 
parted with the dove-eyed, soft-footed mes- 
senger of comfort many a weary, vice- 
stained month ago. 

And, with this strange new sensation of 
rest upon him, he went his quiet way 
along the fragrant country road, till he 
had left the last outposts of the city be- 



204 PENHALA. 

hind him; and then, turning down a lane 
•embowered between spreading hedges, and 
passing an isolated cottage, slumbering in 
the embrace of its own luxuriant green- 
ery, he came to a plantation of pines skirt- 
ting the road, and leapt the low, mossy, 
stone wall, and — found himself at home ! 

On the next day an extraordinary piece 
of luck befell him. A young fool who 
had won a hatful of money on the great 
race, was flinging his sovereigns about 
right and left. The Markiss happened to 
^ take a pitch ' near his party, and the 
ladies in the carriage chose to admire the 
strolling wizard's deft manipulation of the 
cards ; a consummation to which his pic- 
turesque appearance may in some measure 
have contributed. 

Result, a couple of sovereigns tossed to 
the Markiss, as if they were a couple of 
pennies. 



PENHALA. 205 

The conjurer opened his eyes as he 
pocketed the gold, and said nothing. This 
windfall would smooth away the difficul- 
ties in the way of his journey to the wife 
of John Smith number one. It was curi- 
ous how he held on to that notion of 
carrying out his promise to his dead friend 
with as little delay as possible. Perhaps 
it was because, in all those past years of 
misery and degradation, he had never had 
an ojDportunity of doing anybody a good 
turn, and the novelty of the thing attracted 
him ; perhaps he snatched at the journey 
as an occupation only, glad to have once 
more some purpose in life, some object 
ahead to aim at, something to lift him for 
a time above the soul-stifling influences of 
a life lived for the present moment only, a 
life without a to-morrow, and, as nearly 
as he could make it, without a yesterday 
either ; a life as nearly on a level with 



206 PENHALA. 

that of the brutes as he could render it, 
and yet worse by far than that of the 
brutes, because, let humanity degrade it- 
self as it will, it cannot utterly stifle all 
thought and sense of responsibility. 

And now John Smith number two had 
a little shred of wholesome thought for 
the restless tendrils of his mind to wrap 
themselves round about, and having some- 
thing to look forward to, his old depres- 
sion loosened its grip somewhat, and he no 
lono-er felt the constant need of drink to 
deaden thought. Such a queer sensation it 
was — to dare to think! To be able to think, 
on one subject at least, without getting the 
heart-ache, or wishing himself dead, or fly- 
ing to the drink for forgetfulness. 

And this windfall of the two sovereigns 
he took as a sign that he w^as to prosper on 
this Lincolnshire journey. So elated was 
he that, meeting the members of his old 



PENH ALA. 207 

firm on his way down the hill at the end 
of the day, he took one of them into his 
confidence. 

That was one of his many weak points, 
that he could not suspect another of a 
meanness impossible to himself. 

Because he would have been glad to hear 
of another's good fortune, it seemed a 
matter of course to him that others should 
be glad to hear of his. He was very young 
yet, very young indeed, for all the lines 
which trouble had graven on his brow, and 
round his lips, and in spite of the silver 
threads, which showed themselves here and 
there among the long wavy masses of his 
chestnut hair. 

And so, in the fulness of his heart, and 
because of that new pleasant touch of 
hopefulness that was on him, he told his 
old comrades of his slice of luck, and even 
stood drinks round at the first pub they 



208 PENHALA. 

came to, and then went on his way towards 
his last night's camping-ground. 

He held out against their invitation to 
stay and make a night of it, because he 
intended to be off with the dawn, and he 
wanted to get a few hours' rest beforehand. 
And, for another thing, he had lost the 
old incentive to drink till he was drunk 
— the power to think was no longer syno- 
nymous with the power to suffer. He had 
something to do, and he needed a clear 
head to plan how best to do it. 

And he was planning his journey as he 
took his way once again towards Lord 
Haphazard's pine-woods, too busily occu- 
pied with his own affairs, to notice that he 
was being followed at a distance by some- 
one who seemed particularly anxious to 
avoid observation, judging from the way 
he crept along in the shadow. 

It struck him once or twice, after he had 



PENH ALA. 209 

composed himself for the night, that he 
heard sounds of movement in the under- 
growth near him, the breaking of a dry- 
twig underfoot, or the springing back of a 
bramble trail that had been forced out of 
its natural position by some passing body. 
But the Markiss did not trouble himself 
to enquire what the sounds might mean. 
If poachers were in the woods it was no 
affair of his, still less was it his affair if 
the keepers were abroad. So he lay there 
listening to the whisper of the pine needles, 
and the distant croaking of a frog, and the 
occasional lowing of kine from the lord 
of the manor's dairy-farm close by, until, 
by and by, his thoughts grew indefinite 
and disconnected, and the sounds around 
him ceased to convey any meaning to his 
brain, and he slept. 

• Mary Fentimore had adopted the prac- 

VOL. I. P 



210 PENH ALA. 

tice of early rising since her arrival at 
Love Lane Cottage. That morning half- 
hour she spent with Mr. Boxford, tramp- 
ing through the woods to the pheasants' 
feeding-ground, was one of the most enjoy- 
able times during her whole day. She 
loved tramping through the dewy woods 
in the exquisite sweetness and stillness of 
the new-born day, she loved to watch 
nature awake, all flushed and fresh, from 
her night's rest, and it was a delight to her 
to stand back well in the shadow of the 
trees, and see the gorgeous birds stealing 
shyly from the cover into the open, to peck 
daintily at the strewn grain. 

One or another of the dogs would usu- 
ally accompany them on these occasions, 
keeping obediently at his master's heels 
on their way through the plantations, and 
crouching out of sight in the grass, with 



PEXHALA. 211 

tis muzzle on his paws, while the feeding 
was going on. 

On this especial morning Roderick, the 
setter pup, showed more impatience of 
control than usual. Once or twice he 
broke away from the pathway, and went 
sniffing vigorously among the undergrowth. 
He always came back at his master's word, 
but he did it plainly under protest, resum- 
ino; his investio:ations the moment the 
keeper's eye was off him again. 

' He's a bit self-willed this morning,' 
said Mary, presently. 

Boxford shook his head, and shot a 
sharp glance through the brushwood. 

' There's something there that hadn't 
ought to be, as I make it out,' he said. 
' The pup wouldn't be so rampageous 
about nothing. I'll take a look as I come 
back. I'm a bit late for the birds already.' 

p2 



212 PENH ALA. 

' I'll go and look now,' said Mary ; ' and 
join you on your way back.' 

Boxford threw an approving glance 
over his shoulder at her. She was made 
of good stuff; such a thing as fear never 
seemed to come into her head. 

' I shall be back in ^ve minutes, miss,^ 
he said. ' I expect it'll be dead game, 
you'll find. Take my whistle, and call 
out if it's anything serious.' 

Mary took the whistle and turned off 
through the bushes, with the pup whim- 
pering excitedly in front of her. 

Just at the spot where they had left the 
path the undergrowth was unusually 
thick, so that it was impossible to see any 
distance ahead, and so it happened that 
Mary, skirting round a solid clump of 
foliage, came, utterly unprepared, upon 
what she had come to find. 



PENHALA. 213 

In that first moment of discovery slie was 
not frightened, only startled. The man 
was lying on his side with his back to- 
wards her, and his head pillowed on his 
outstretched arm. She took in at a glance 
his black stockings, scarlet knickerbockers, 
short black jacket, and a mass of wavy 
chestnut hair. 

Evidently one of the wandering min- 
strels down for the races, who had stolen 
in here for a night's rest. She was turn- 
ing away again, when she saw Roderick 
put his nose close to the sleeping man's 
head, and sniff. 

The next instant she was down on her 
knees, with the man's face turned up to 
the sky, and all the blood in her body 
making an inward rush to her heart. 

As her glance fell on the red stain 
where his head had lain, there was a 



214 PENHALA. 

moment's qualm ; but she pulled herself 
together heroically, and blew a shrill call 
on the whistle. 

Kind God ! How white his face was ! 
Everywhere but just that patch above his 
temple, where the blood had dried over a 
horrible wound. AYas he dead ? No ; 
his heart was still beating. Who and 
what was he, to be here in such a plight 
as this ? His clothes were those of a 
wayside mummer, but his delicate features, 
and the impress of mental suffering, so 
visible, even in his unconsciousness, in 
the tense knit of his finely pencilled brows, 
and the deep lines of thought above his 
auburn moustache, surely they hinted at 
something higher in the social scale than 
a strolling conjurer ? And his hands I 
Beyond all doubt they were the hands of 
a gentleman. Those long, slender, flexilCy 
tapering fingers, and those well-kept nails 



PEXHALA. 215 

must belong to a man accustomed to the 
refinements of civilisation. How drawn 
and strained and troubled was the whole 
expression of his face ! And yet, surely 
he was quite a young man ? He was 
broad and big, but there was still that 
suo^orestion of lissomness in the lines of 
the throat and shoulders, that slenderness 
in the loins which seem to hint at further 
development in the future. 

So young in years, and yet so old in 
suffering ! 

A great pity welled up in Mary Fenti- 
more's heart as she looked. The broad, 
candid forehead should have been so 
smooth and calm, the fine brows should 
never have taken that permanent knit of 
sullen suffering — as of one bending be- 
neath a burden beyond his strength. She 
knew exactly the haunted look his eyes 
would have. Ah, now he was oroino^ to 



216 PENH ALA. 

open them. Heaven, what a spasm of 
agony that was ! See how his brows came 
together, and his lips drew back, showing 
the teeth set hard on one another within ! 

Would somebody never come ! 

Again she blew a shrill call on her 
whistle, and at the sound the eyes of the 
injured man unclosed in sudden, startled 
consciousness, and gazed up wonderingly 
into her own. 

And then came the crashing of hurry- 
ing footsteps through the undergrowth, 
and the astonished Boxford strode into 
view. 



217 



CHAPTER II. 



'PART OF THE SHADOW THAT IS ON ME.' 



It was three weeks since Mary Fentimore 
and the pup Roderick had found John 
Smith in Lord Haphazard's plantations, 
three weeks since he had been brous^ht 
home, insensible, to the cottage in Love 
Lane, and he was there still. 

This was Mary's doing. Boxford had 
suggested taking the unconscious man 
into Chichester, and leaving him in the 
hands of the authorities, but Miss Fenti- 
more had begged so earnestly that he 



218 PENH ALA. 

might be spared the ordeal of the jolting- 
ride into the town, and had given the good 
people of the house to understand so un- 
mistakably that they should lose nothing 
by their kindness to the poor fellow, that 
it had ended in her having her own way. 

Mrs. Boxford, noting the mountebank 
attire of the stranger, and, drawing her 
own conclusions from the absolute empti- 
ness of his pockets, had at first refused 
most decisively to have anything to do 
with him. But Mrs. Boxford, in her 
younger days, had known service in good 
families, and flattered herself that she 
could always tell an aristocrat by instinct. 
And Miss Fentimore, knowing of this little 
-weakness of the kind creature's, played 
upon it shamelessly to gain her own ends. 

' He is no common roadside stroller,' 
she said, slyly. ' Look at his finger-tips,, 
and his almond-shajDed nails. Look how 



PEXHALA. 21^ 

delicate his hands are, for all their sun- 
burn. A woman who knows as much of 
the aristocracy as you do, Mrs. Boxford, 
must know that that is the hand of a gen- 
tleman. I believe this ridiculous dress is 
some mad freak. For all we know he may 
be some very highly-born person — some 
nobleman's son who was carrying out a 
practical joke, and fell into bad company, 
and got rough treatment. Surely we can- 
not do wrono; in showino^ him a little kind- 
ness, till he can tell us who he is, and 
enable us to communicate with his friends.' 
It was this last touch that carried the day. 
Mrs. Boxford's active imagination took a 
flying leap into the future ; already she 
pictured herself, in her best silk gown, 
receiving the thanks of perhaps a duke 
— or an earl at least — in her own little 
parlour, and the ambitious dream per- 
suaded her into a folly which her kind- 



220 PENHALA. 

ness of heart alone would never have 
countenanced. 

So the mountebank was carried into her 
remaining spare bed-room, and there he 
remained for three weeks ; attended by the 
best doctor in Chichester, and nursed by 
Miss Fentimore and Mrs. B oxford — with 
the assistance of a hired nurse for the 
night work. 

Even in his delirium he was a model 
patient, but when that trouble was over 
and he was rational again, his obedience 
to orders, and his perfect patience under 
the tedium and misery of convalescence, 
made Mary feel sometimes as if she must 
run away and have a good cry. She had 
had experience of sick men before, and 
she knew the state of mind that was 
natural to them when recovering from an 
illness ; and, knowing this, she asked her- 



PENH ALA. 221 

self a dozen times a day, what could have 
been the circumstances of this man's past 
life to produce such humble-mindedness, 
such a pathetic gratitude for small services, 
as he evidently felt. 

Sometimes, as she ministered to his com- 
fort, he would watch her about the room 
with a look in his eyes that brought a 
lump into her throat; and she would have 
to run away and tight the folly down by 
herself. For Miss Fentimore hated nothing 
more than uncalled-for displays of emotion, 
and she would never have pardoned herself 
for giving way to anything of the kind in 
the presence of her patient. Indeed, she 
found it rather hard work to forgive her- 
self even for the private indulgence of such 
folly ; but the sad humility, the shamed 
wonderment of the poor fellow's manner, 
as he accepted her trifling services, seemed 



222 PENHALA. 

to hint at such an overwhelming conscious- 
ness of his own self-abasement, such a con- 
stant sense of his own undeservingness, that 
she could not always keep her sorrowful 
pity within bounds. 

Of course she was annoyed with herself 
for giving way in this absurd fashion, and 
that was why, as he approached conva- 
lescence, she withdrew herself gradually 
from the invalid's room. If she could not 
remain in his society without behaving like 
a weak-minded fool, she must keep out of 
it, that was all. 

And so it fell out that, for the last few 
days of his confinement to his room, John 
Smith saw nothingof his sweet-faced nurse, 
and missed her as nobody but a sick person 
can miss a fellow-creature. 

But for all that he never presumed to 
speak of her to Mrs. Boxford ; only won- 



PENHALA. 223 

dered incessantly whether he should ever 
see her again, to thank her for her kind- 
ness to a castaway who could never hope 
to repay her. 

Sometimes he hoped he should have 
an opportunity of tendering his thanks in 
person, at others the mere thought of find- 
in": himself ao^ain face to face with her 
w^ould fill him with a wordless dread. 
With the memory of the life he had lived 
for the last three years always more or less 
present in his mind, he felt there was a 
touch of sacrilege in personal intercourse 
between himself and such a woman as this. 
Hitherto he had endeavoured to shut his 
eyes to his own degradation, but he could no 
longer be blind to it. In the moral lumin- 
osity of a good woman's presence his social 
defilement stood forth with hideous clear- 
ness, and he shrank back appalled at the 



224 PENHALA. 

sudden self-revelation, at the contrast 
between his two selves, past and present. 

And this was his mental condition when 
he found himself strong enough to get 
down over the stairs again, and asked for 
his clothes, that he might take himself off 
out of the way of these good Samaritans. 

And then it was that he heard Mary's 
name. 

' Miss Fentimore has taken the liberty of 
getting you some clothes,' Mrs. B oxford 
told him. ' She thought you might be shy 
of showing yourself in those masquerading 
things, when you got about again, and so 
she ventured to get some others. Boxford 
took your coat to the tailors for the size, 
and brought you back a tweed suit.' 

John Smith laughed in a kind of feeble 
desperation. 

' I wonder if Miss Fentimore under- 
stands the sort of character I am,' he said, 



PENHALA. 225 

roughly. ' Do you take me for a prince 
in disguise, that you overwhelm me with 
favours like this ?' 

But Mrs. Boxforcl only shook her head 
and said nothing, and left him to make his 
toilette. And, because his own clothes 
were nowhere visible, he was forced to at- 
tire himself in those of Miss Fentimore's 
providing. How did she think he was 
ever going to repay her, he wondered sar- 
donically ; and began to wish that this fairy 
princess, with the clear limpid gray eyes, 
and the tender voice, had left him to fight 
things out in his own fashion, after he had 
been robbed and half murdered out in the 
woods yonder. 

And when he got out on the staircase 
presently, and heard no sound of move- 
ment in the house, and saw the door below 
wide to the summer sunshine, a sudden 
idea came to him to make his escape there 

VOL. I. Q 



226 PEXHALA. 

and then, and leave his gratitude for some 
other day. 

But he altered his mind when he reach- 
ed the open door, for Miss Fentimore was 
sitting in the garden, and escaj^e by that 
way was impossible. 

The poor wretch was very weak yet, 
and as he took in the full meaning of the 
little picture out there in the shadow of 
the acacia tree — the daintily set out tea- 
table, the large cane chair, with a rug 
spread under it and a large cushion at its 
back. Miss Fentimore herself in a spotless 
cambric frock, girt round with a pale blue 
w^aist-ribbon — as he saw it all, and recog- 
nised the fact that the little festival had 
been got up in honour of his re-appear- 
ance, such a mad yearning after the un- 
attainable fell upon him, that the hot tears 
rushed to his eyes, and he hid his face 
with his hand, and fell back into the 



PENHALA. 227 

shadow of the porch to steady himself. 

How pure and sweet she looked! The 
clear pallor of her skin, the healthy red 
of her lips, the glistening coils of her 
warm, dark hair, the dainty freshness of 
her spotless gown, weren't they enough to 
give the heart-ache to any poor devil who 
had, by his own iniquity, placed all such 
things beyond his reach for ever and ever ? 
Ay, his penance was not over yet. 

Once again, as he stood there in the 
creeper-smothered porch, the inclination 
to get away, somewhere where she could 
not find him, to release her at once and 
for ever from the overshadowing influence 
of his guilty presence, seized upon him ; 
but, before he could pluck back his gaze 
from her dainty loveliness, she lifted her 
eyes and saw him, and the next thing he 
knew was that his hands were in hers, and 
she was congratulating him on his con- 

q2 



228 PENHALA. 

valescence, witli her clear, candid glance 
raised to his in the outspoken warmth of 
a pure woman's friendship. 

For a brief, blessed breathing space, as 
she led him to the big cane chair, and ar- 
ranged his pillows behind him, it seemed 
to him that those three-and-a-half years 
of black, blinding misery were nothing but 
a hideous dream, to be put behind him 
and forgotten — for a few minutes all his 
old attractive manner returned to him, and 
he found himself answering her enquiries 
as he would have answered them of old, 
in that long past time of his life which 
had become a mere memory to him. And 
then, all in an instant, the full sum of his 
own enormity rushed back upon him, and 
he stood up, abruptly checking himself in 
the midst of a grateful reply to some of 
her enquiries. 

' What in God's name am I doins:?' he 



PENHALA. 229 

burst fortli ; and at the sudden anguish in 
his voice she stopped her little bustle 
among the cups and saucers, and rested 
her hands on the edge of the tray, looking 
up pitifully at him. ' Miss Fentimore, 
this farce mustn't go on any longer. It 
took my breath away for a moment, when 
you came to me like — like that — as if I 
had been an old friend — and greeted me 
as you would greet an equal ; I was too 
taken aback to set you right at once. It 
is all a terrible mistake, my kind little 
lady. I am not the sort of man to be 
received like this, by you. Do you know 
the sort of thing I am? I come of the 
very dregs of the people. When I am at 
home, I live in that part of London which 
is known to such as you as The Slums, and 
my associates are, almost without exception, 
members of the criminal classes. And I — 
if I am not in very deed a criminal myself 



230 PEXHALA. 

— I am the next thing to it — I am a rogue 
and a vagabond, dear lady; that is my titles 
according to the laws of my country. To 
descend to detail, I am a Wayside Wizard ^ 
who turns a nimble penny by practising 
the hocus-pocus business at race-meetings 
and penny fairs. I ask your pardon for 
presuming to sit in your presence, as I 
did just now. I forgot myself — you — 
you ' 

' Forgot myself too,' Mary put in, with a 
little smile. 

She was startled, there was no denpng 
that, but she was sorry too, more sorry 
than she could say, for the worn, weary 
man who stood at the other edge of the 
small table, bent beneath the heart-break- 
ing consciousness of his own fallen con- 
dition. 

' As for presuming to sit in my pre- 



PENHALA. 231 

sence,' she went on, gently, ' that is all 
nonsense. You are not strong enough to 
stand. Even now, you are half-fainting 
with fatio^ue. Don't let us waste thouo;ht 
upon such trifles as social distinctions 
until you are a little stronger. At present 
our relations towards each other are only 
those of nurse and patient, and you must 
be docile and obedient. Let me set your 
pillows straight for you again. You must 
rest yourself. Dressing has fagged you. 
I had a serious illness myself some few 
Years ao^o, and I remember that the first 
day I left my room I was ready to cry 
with exhaustion. Some day, when you are 
a little stronger, you shall talk to me as 
much as you like about yourself, but to- 
day we will talk of pleasant things 
only.' 

Agitation and weakness had set him 



232 PENH ALA. 

shaking, and he offered no further resist- 
ance when she gently persuaded him into 
his chair again. 

He was silent for a little, watching her 
dainty management of the tea-table. He 
did not remember much about his mother, 
but he had one clear memory of her, in a 
white dress, making tea in a garden arbour, 
with a lawn bathed in the summer sun- 
shine as a foreground, and all around her 
the flutter of leaves, and the drowsy 
buzzing of bees, and the gladsome song of 
the birds. 

His mother had been just such another 
as this girl ; and he was — what he was ! 

' I thought,' he said, presently, ' I ex- 
pected that you would refuse to have any- 
thing more to do with me, when you heard 
what I really was.' 

' Then you had not formed a very good 
opinion of me,' she answered him. ' But 



PEXHALA. 233 

I am not really so surprised as you seemed 
to expect ; I guessed at something of the 
sort, you know. But I guessed at some- 
thing else too — 1 guessed that things with 
you had not been always as they are now. 
And besides,' she hurried on, afraid that 
he might take this last remark as a hint 
that she was curious to know more about 
him, ' there is another reason why I should 
have stood by you in your trouble — you 
and I are brother chips — you see we both 
belong to the community of mummers — 
I am a public singer. For the past year 
I have been earning my living as a mem- 
ber of Mr. Burlington's travelling opera 
company. Perhaps that will make you 
feel more at home — to know that I am as 
truly a rogue and a vagabond as you your- 
self, if we go in for the strict letter of the 
law.' 

A ghost of a smile touched his lips for 



234 PENH ALA. 

an instant, and was gone again ; and she^ 
seeing the change it wrought in his face^ 
was seized with a desire to brino^ it back 



agam. 



' That does not lessen the distance be- 
tween us, dear lady. There is nothing in 
common — God forbid that there should 
be — between you and me ; I belong to 
those who stand in the outer darkness for 
ever and ever — your lot shall be always 
full of brightness, and light, and happiness, 
because of the beauty and goodness of 
your heart.' 

Her eyes darkened with a touch of 
pain. 

' It is because you are weak that you 
talk so hopelessly,' she said. ' Because 
3^ou have made some terrible mistake in 
your past — forgive me ! I can't help guess- 
ing at something of the sort — is that any 
reason why you are never to do good in 



PENH ALA. 235 

the time to come ? It is folly ! You are 
so young — the best part of your life is 
still before you.' 

He shook his head. 

' If you knew what my past has been 
like,' he said, quietly. 

As she looked across at his white, 
drawn face, a sudden touch of hesitation 
fell upon her. The colour came and went 
in her cheeks, and, when she spoke, her 
timidity was very apparent in her lowered 
tone, and the tremulousness of her lips. 

' Who has made you a judge of what is 
pardonable and what not? I do not be- 
lieve there is any sin we are capable of that 
is past making atonement for. "Though 
your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as 
white as snow." ' 

She paused suddenly, very much over- 
whelmed at her own temerity. She to take 
to preaching ! 



236 PENHALA. 

There was a long, long silence, except 
for the booming of a big bumble-bee, busy 
among the hedge of sun-flowers which shut 
off the view of Mrs. Boxford's vegetable 
garden, and the curious hum of invisible 
life that is always more or less audible in 
the hot, dry air of a summer dsij. 

John sighed softly under his breath 
and looked around him, taking in the ex- 
quisite peace and beauty of the picture 
with a passionate yearning in his wan 
eyes. It was all so strange and wonderful 
— and not without its touch of the terrible 
too — to find himself — the drunken, soulless 
blackguard, the past associate of criminals 
— thieves who lived openly on the pro- 
ceeds of their robberies, and so forth — to 
find himself in the solemn silence of this 
summer afternoon, tete-a-tete^ on a footing of 
equality, with this pure, soft- voiced, dainty- 
minded girl. Could it be really he — the 



PENH ALA. 237 

strolling conjurer, the past comrade of 
^velshers and pickpockets — who was sitting 
here, in social intercourse with this refined 
creature, who had 'Lady' written on every 
fold of her clean white gown, every tone of 
her exquisite voice, every thought of her 
pure, holy mind ? 

' " White as snow," ' he said, breaking 
that long pause with a repetition of her 
last words. ' " White as snow " ? That I 
shall never be. Repentance and pardon 
don't come in the way of such as me. 
And yet — ' he paused, meeting her com- 
passionate glance, and went on again, with 
a quick longing at his heart to be even as 
she would have him, — ' and yet, if I could 
cleanse myself of some of the scum that has 
settled on me in these last ghastly years, 
I would — I would try to be something 
better than I have been, if only out of 
gratitude to you, dear lady.' 



238 PENHALiV. 

Mary's face flushed again. 

' I am glad !' she said, and she put out 
a quick, eager hand across the table to 
him. But he held back, though there 
came a faint reflection of her flush into 
his hollow cheeks. 

' Am I forgetting myself again ?' she 
asked, with a tremulous little laugh. 
^ Never mind ! I won't ask you to shake 
hands again till you are better friends 
with yourself. I was so glad — that was 
all. Life shall be a beautiful thing for 
you yet ; you shall see. And because you 
are doing this great thing for me, you will 
let me do something for you in return. 
You won't be proud with me. There 
must be some way in which you can help 
yourself, and you will let me help you 
to find it out. You will not run away 
again and hide yourself from your friend ?' 

' Dear lady ' 



PENH ALA. 239 

• Xo ; I will not have you call me that! 
All that sort of thing belongs to the old 
life — to-day we will start with the new. 
You will use my name in speaking to 
me ; and I will use yours, with your 
permission.' 

Her bonhomie won upon him ; he gave 
her iDack her smile, though about his there 
was a substratum of self-depreciation. 
He could not forget so soon the distance 
between them, or the reverence due from 
him to her. 

' I cannot offer you a visiting-card — 
when those murderous ruffians stripped 
my pockets, they did it thoroughly — but 
my name is John Smith.' 

'Well, at any rate, there will be no 
difficulty about remembering it,' she said, 
not allowing him to guess for an instant 
that she suspected the alias. ' So they 
stripped your pockets ? Mr. B oxford said 



240 PENHALA. 

you liad been robbed, as well as balf- 
murdered. Did they take anj^thing very 
important? Would you like to put the 
matter into the hands of the police ?' 

His smile this time came with a differ- 
ence. The suo:o:estion touched his sense 
of humour. He to apply to the police ! 

' It would be useless now/ he said. 
' There was a parcel of papers that T pro- 
mised to deliver to the widow of a dead 
friend. The poor fellow died only the 
night before I came down here. For 
years he had heard nothing from his wife 
until that day — the day of his death — and 
then he only heard that she was staying 
with her people in Lincolnshire, and that 
they were all going to emigrate. They 
were to sail for Australia the first week in 
August. He had been a rough one, but, 
when the end came, his thoughts were all 
for the poor soul he had driven from him. 



PENHALA. 241 

I promised to go to her, and lie gave me 
all kinds of messages, and this bundle of 
papers ; hut the opportunity is lost. Even 
if I recovered the papers, which I should 
not do — the thieves who robbed me would 
not keep such incriminating evidence, you 
may be sure — but, even if I did, where 
would be the use ? She is half-way to 
Australia by now.' 

'It is a pity,' said Mary, softly ; ' a 
promise to the dead is such a sacred 
thing.' 

Her words started a new train of thought. 
He did not speak at once, and when he 
did, he spoke more to himself than to 
her. 

' It is all part of the shadow that is on 
me,' he said, sombrously. ' My heart was 
set on doing it. Another man would have 
been allowed to carry out his promise. 
Such little pleasures are not for me.' 

VOL. I. R 



242 PENHALA. 

Mary pretended not to hear. She 
changed the conversation by asking him 
if he had any taste for music, and when 
she found that, upon this point at least, 
they were kindred spirits, she kept him 
talking brightly and pleasantly, until the 
sloping shadows warned her that it was 
time her patient was back in the dryer and 
safer atmosphere of his own room. 

And perhaps, though he had put the 
thought into words — that his inability to 
keep his promise to his dead friend was 
' all part of the shadow that was on him ' 
— he did not himself realise the full truth 
of the saying. 

This one o;ood thins; that he had tried 
to do in all those years of bestial degra- 
dation, was it not ' part of the shadow that 
was on him,' that it should, in the time to 
come, tell against, rather than for his life's 
happiness ; that this attempt to serve a 



PENHALA. 243 

friend should, in the lono^ run, tell for his 
shame rather than his credit ? 

When he was back in bed again, and 
Mrs. Boxford came in to see that he had 
all that he needed for the night, he asked 
for his own black jacket, the one he was 
wearing when they found him in the 
woods. 

And after the good woman was gone, 
and he was alone again, he sat up in bed 
and ripped a few stitches under the collar, 
and drew out a slender packet of news- 
2)aper from under the stiffened lining. 
There were Hxe cuttings in the packet — 
two of some length, the others mere scraps, 
and they all referred to one subject — the 
search for Hagar Polwhele's accredited 
murderer, John Penhala. 

Mary Fentimore was singing somewhere 
among the shadows in the garden under 
the open window of John Smith's room ; 

k2 



244 PENUALA. 

and as he sat up in bed, reading his cut- 
tings by the light of the August afterglow, 
he was conscious of the melody of her 
voice, entangling itself among the matter- 
of-fact phraseology of the newspaper scribe. 

'We understand it is the intention of 
the Government to offer a reward of a hun- 
dred pounds, for such information as shall 
lead to the arrest of John Penhala, the 
suspected murderer of Hagar Polwhele.' 

He might almost have been reading 
them for the first time, judging by the 
close attention he gave them, and indeed 
there was a certain sense of freshness in 
their perusal. More than a year had 
passed since he sewed them up in the 
collar of his ' property ' jacket, and the 
cruelty of them came now as something 
new to him. He had always known how 
hard and pitiless they were, but desuetude 
had a little blunted the keenness of their 



PENHALA. 245 

edge, and now their merciless harshness 
smote him almost as if he had never fully 
realised it before. 

And through the evening's quietness 
rose Mary's voice from the shadowy gar- 
den beneath, as he picked up the next and 
read — 

' It is reported at Carn Ruth that Morris 
Edyvean — the one-time sweetheart of the 
girl Hagar Polwhele, who was drowned at 
Carn Ruth last Christmas time — is about 
to leave his home, and start on a world- 
wide search after the man whom he ac- 
cuses of her murder. He has dedicated 
himself, so it is said, to the one purpose — 
tracking down her murderer — and as he is 
an unusually powerful man, considerably 
over six feet in height, it would probably 
go hard with John Penhala if they should 
ever meet face to face.' 

He read them all through, sitting on the 



246 PENHALA. 

bed, with his knees hunched up to his chiuy 
and when he had read them he still sat 
there, listening to the singing underneath, 
and wondering whether he should destroy 
them or not. He could hardly tell why 
he had taken such pains to keep them all 
these years, no more than he could tell 
why he had such a rooted disinclination 
to destroy them now. He had always 
known there was danger in keeping them, 
that was why he had taken such pains to 
secrete them, and yet he could not bring 
himself to make away with them. 

Perhaps it was because they formed a 
link, the only one left, between his jDast 
and his present. AVell, even so, it was 
folly to preserve them. What had he to 
hope for from his past ? Nothing ! Why 
then seek to keep himself in touch with 
it? Why, indeed! He did not know. 
He only knew that some influence, stronger 



PEXHALA. 247 

than his o^vn common-sense, held back his 
hand, when he would have destroyed those 
ill-omened scraps of paper. 

Mary was still singing as he tucked 
them back into their old hiding-place, and 
sewed up the opening in the seam. She 
was indoors now, the sweetness of her 
voice penetrated the walls but faintly as 
she sang, without accompaniment, Mar- 
guerite's jewel-song. 

The music seemed to be calling him, 
urging him to leave the past behind him 
at once and for ever, and to live for the 
future alone. For a moment his needle 
paused, — should he destroy the incrimi- 
nating evidence ? — and then went on 
again. Xo, the cuttings were safe enough 
there. 

Was it all a part of the shadow that was 
on him ? 



248 



CHAPTER III. 

A MATTER OF MUTUAL OBLIGATION. 

If, in the course of the next few weeks, 
John Smith succeeded in overcoming to a 
certain degree that distressing sense of his 
own social abasement, which had been so 
noticeable in his first interview with Miss 
Fentimore, if he was no longer so contin- 
uously conscious of the impassable dis- 
tance — social and moral — which separated 
him from her, the praise or the blame of 
the change rested entirely with Mary her- 
self. She had set her heart on the re- 
clamation of this unfortunate sinner, and 



PENHALA. 249 

she had begun her task by fostering and 
cultivating his self-respect. And now he 
was almost beo-innino* to believe that there 
was some faint little hope for him after all, 
that he was to have a chance at last of 
leaving the bitter mistakes of the past be- 
hind him, a chance of making a fresh bid 
for the life of a man, rather than the 
existence of a brute beast. 

Xot that he was less really humble- 
minded than before — it would be a matter 
of years rather than weeks before he could 
shake off the humility which always came 
of a glance at the years behind him — but 
his sense of degradation was less con- 
spicuous than it had been ; reverence there 
still was in his manner to Mary, but the 
old obsequiousness had disappeared; he 
still recognised, and acknowledged by 
every word and look, her spiritual superi- 
ority, but he did not show such an ever 



250 PENHALA. 

present consciousness of the social dis- 
parity between himself and his sweety 
gracious hostess. 

For in a sort of way he was still Mary's 
guest. That is to say, he had so per- 
sistently declared the impossibility of tres- 
passing further on her generosity, that she 
had cast about for and found means of 
satisfying his scruples. For the last fort- 
night he had been working live or six 
hours a day at music-copying, Mary having 
suddenly discovered that it was necessary 
she should have all her operatic parts re- 
written without delay. Before this supply 
of employment gave out she wrote to Mr. 
Burlington, asking him to allow her to 
make him a present of an entire set of new 
orchestral parts for some of his operas, a 
request he granted without demur, though 
not without a little wonder on the subject 
of ' Fentimore's little game.' 



PENH ALA. 251 

And so, day after day, John Smitli sat 
out on the tiny lavrn, in the shadow of the 
acacia-tree, in the mellow softness of the 
September atmosphere, with his music 
sheets spread out on the table before him, 
working as, in all his life, he had never 
worked before. And the peaceful repose 
— is there any time of the year that is so 
soothing in its influences as those weeks 
at the end of summer, before the final 
break-up comes ? Those utterly still morn- 
ings, when the warm translucent mist lies 
like a veil over the face of the earth, waiting 
till the amorous touch of her lover the sun 
shall lift it, and leave her beauty disclosed 
in all the fulness of accomplishment ; the 
swooning heat of the noon-day; the languor- 
ous softness of the afternoons; the seductive 
silence of the evenings, when the moon 
comes up, big and ruddy, mounting slowly 
through the layers of vapour till she lifts 



252 PENHALA. 

herself clear of them, and sails smoothly 
on, across the solemn background of il- 
limitable space — the birds scarcely chirp 
the day through, just now, their family 
cares are over for the year, and they are 
lazy as the result of a too easily satisfied 
appetite; the bees, thinned in numbers, go 
about their labour with far less bustle and 
obtrusiveness than when the summer's work 
was still before them ; all nature seems to 
be resting, with the air of one conscious of 
a good day's work done, conscious of 
deserving rest. 

And John Smith sat and worked at his 
copying amid this balmy sweetness, this re- 
pose of maturity, and some of the restful 
influences of his surroundings penetrated 
to his tempest-riven spirit, and brought 
some touch of healing with it. 

And Mary, watching him from the 
shadowy recesses of her flower-filled par- 



PENHALA. 253 

lour, would sigh and wish he would not- 
work quite so hard ; she could scarcely 
persuade him to exchange half-a-dozen 
words with her, until his day's allotted 
portion of work was finished. 

Perhaps, though, this very abstinence 
made the enjoyment of the evening's com- 
panionship all the keener, when they sat 
out in the garden talking, or watched the 
moon rise in a delicious, companionable 
silence, or went into the fragrant little par- 
lour and sang, to the accompaniment of 
the piano which Miss Fentimore had hired 
on her first arrival at the cottage. 

And Miss Fentimore, hearino; and takinor 
heed unto John Smith's cultivated method 
and refined voice, was careful to give no 
expression to any conjectures she formed 
on the matter. If the whole truth must 
be told, she was considerably surprised to 
find how exceedingly well he sang. He 



254 PENHALA. 

ivas a gentleman by birth and upbringing, 
of course ; she had known that all along. 
His slim finger-tips, his soft, easy speech, 
the spontaneity of his little attentions to 
her wants at the table — everything told 
the same story ; but, admitting that he was 
all she had guessed, his singing was still 
not to be accounted for in that fashion. 
He sang like one who had received a pro- 
fessional training. And yet there was no 
sign of the professional vocalist about him. 
His manners, but for those intermittent 
flashes of shame, were purely and simply 
those of a gentleman. 

And it was because of this that matters 
were so difficult for missionary Mary. 
Occupation of some sort he must have — 
his determined attitude of independence 
demanded it — but occupation for a gentle- 
man is, unhappily, so difficult to find. 



PENHALA. 255 

What would he do when her vacation was 
over, and she had resumed her duties as a 
member of Mr. Burlington's opera com- 
pany? Was he to slip away from his 
present standing ]Dlace, back into the social 
quagmire from which she had but just res- 
cued him ? The thought made her clasp 
her hands in veritable agony of mind. 

And while she was plaguing herself day 
and night over the problem of John Smith's 
ultimate fate, something happened which 
seemed to her, in the impulsive gratitude 
of the moment, to be an actual interposi- 
tion of providence on behalf of her inter- 
esting protege. 

Mrs. Burlington, in writing to acknow- 
ledge a parcel of parts, mentioned a sur- 
prising piece of news. 

' We are just now in a great state of 
suspense. Lascelles has lost his father, 



256 PENHALA. 

and will of course come into the property 
at once. We have not heard from him 
yet — we saw the announcements of the 
death in the paper — but we are expecting 
a line from him daily, to tell us that he 
does not return to us. Wilfred is beside 
himself with anxiety. If it had happened 
at the beginning of the vacation, or even a 
month ago, we might have replaced him 
without much difficulty, but all the autumn 
engagements are made now, and the good 
men all booked, until Christmas at least, 
and we shall probably have to put up with 
some ghastly stick, who will ruin every 
scene he appears in.' 

Mary received the letter by the after- 
noon post, and, as she gathered the full 
meaning of the news, a quick, sudden 
throb of gladness sent the blood flashing 
into her cheeks. 

She glanced through the open window 



PENHALA. 257 

at the quiet, absorbed figure under the 
acacia-tree. The very thing! If he would^ 
oh, if he only would ! 

Without stopping to give it a second 
thought — how indeed should a second 
thought be needed for an arrangement so 
exactly in keeping with all the require- 
ments of the case ? Her state of delight was- 
such that to wait to consider would have 
seemed almost like ingratitude — with her 
face alight with pleasure, and Mrs. Bur- 
lington's letter still in her hand, she ran 
out to the garden, speaking as she went. 

' I must break rules, John Smith ! Lay 
down your pen and listen to me. I have 
a great, a magnificent scheme to propose 
to you ! How would you like an engage- 
ment as second tenor in Mr. Burlington's 
opera company ?' 

He did not answer her instantly, only 
lifted his head and looked at her smiling- 

VOL. I. S 



258 PE^^HALA. 

ly, with his finger still keeping his place 
on the sheet he was copying, awaiting 
further enlightenment. She was always 
pleasant to look at, this girl with the ten- 
der, luminous gray eyes, and the sweet 
mobile mouth, but, somehow, she had 
never looked quite so lovely in his sight as 
she looked at that moment, with the light 
of a great gladness on her face. 

' It is all going to fall out as we want it 
— just as it does in books,' she went on, 
laughing gently at his look of blank non- 
comprehension ; indeed, in her present state 
of joyousness she was glad to find some ex- 
cuse for laughter. ' Here are we puzzling 
our heads over the question of your future 
career, and then, at a breath, comes this 
suggestion, and there is no longer any 
difficulty at all. Mr. Burlington is in want 
of a second tenor, and I can secure the en- 
gagement for you, if you care to accept it.' 



PENHALA. 259 

He understood now what it was she was 
offering him, and he saw at a glance what 
lay behind her words. And of all the bene- 
fits he was likely to reap from this sudden 
stroke of good fortune, only one stood out 
clearly in his mind — it would mean a con- 
tinuance of the friendship betAveen him 
and her. That separation in the immedi- 
ate future, which he had been looking for- 
ward to with a dread unspeakable, would 
be avoided I And at the thought he rose 
hurriedly, with an inarticulate cry in his 
throat, and stood looking at her, afraid, 
even now, to believe, lest disappointment 
should follow. 

And the alternations of passionate hope 
and fear that chased one another across 
his features, she took for signs of gladness 
because he saw at last, oj^ening out before 
bim, a chance of redeeming his past. And 
she felt a great thrill and glow of joy at 

s 2 



260 PENHALA. 

her "heart, because she had been able to 
help him up the hill a little, the steep 
difficult hill that lies between blackguard- 
ism and self-respect. 

' Now don't let us be childish and im- 
pulsive over this business,' she cried, mak- 
ing a determined effort to treat the whole 
affair as a matter of business only. ' There 
is really nothing to fuss about — it is pure- 
ly a matter of mutual obligation — Mr. Bur- 
lington is in a bit of a fix for want of a 
tenor, you are anxious to obtain enploy- 
ment, and are just the man Mr. Burlington 
wants ; and I want you to try for the en- 
gagement, because Mr. Burlington has been 
such a good friend to me, and I should so 
like to do him a good turn if I could. May 
I wire to Mrs. Burlington noAV, in your 
name ?' 

' You shall do what seems best to you,* 
he said, speaking at last, though speech 



V 



PEXHALA. 261 

was still an effort to him, and his voice 
was low and muffled under the strain of 
his strong feeling. ' You are my good 
angel, Miss Fentimore ; I leave myself in 
your hands. If you are not afraid of in- 
troducing such a blackguard to your 
friends — ' 

' I'm a little afraid of one thing,' she 
broke in, cutting him short with a touch of 
tender impatience at his self-depreciation — 
^ you mayn't like the life. Though it will 
be an upward step from the wayside wizard 
business, still there are drawbacks. We 
are not all quite so — so — nice — so 
generous to each other, as we might be ; 
and we are pretentious, too, some of us ; 
and I think it is extremely probable that 
you will find more difficulty in putting up 
with our vulgar pretentiousness, than with 
the outspoken ruffianism that you talk 
about so often. Still, as I said, it is an 



262 PENH ALA. 

upward step, and who can tell what it may- 
lead to in the future.' 

' It seems to me,' said John, recovering^ 
himself somewhat from his first over-power- 
ing touch of emotion, but with such a 
softening of his lips and such a light in 
his eyes, as the reality of this dazzling 
hope came home to him, that it almost 
seemed to Mary she had never seen this 
man's face before, ' it seems to me, that you 
were sent into the world to be my salvation. 
Yes, indeed, you must let me speak out 
something of what is in my heart, or it 
will burst asunder from very fulness. It 
seems to me that the powers that rule the 
destinies of us mortals have suddenly lifted 
me out of the darkness of night, and set me 
in the light of the noon-day — and I'm 
wondering why. Unless indeed — ' he 
added, with a swift touch of memory, and 
then checked himself, and looked at her 



PEXHALA. 263 

half doubtfully. Should he tell her his 
history, or should he remain silent ? ' You 
know,' he went on again, after that pause 
of indecision, ' I have never tried to excuse 
myself to you, I have never tried to make 
out that I am an innocent martyr, that I 
don't deserve all that has befallen me. I 
do thoroughly deserve it. Miss Fentimore — 
I deserve every hour of wretchedness and 
misery that I have gone through since the 
day of my disgrace ; I acted like a scoun- 
drel, and I've had to put up with the con- 
sequences, and I'm not going to cry out 
about it. I can't say I've taken my punish- 
ment like a man, but at any rate I've not 
whined and whimpered over it. But now, 
when, in spite of myself, I am almost be- 
ginning to believe that life — my life — is to 
be worth livino^ ao^ain, I've orot a mad wish 
to clear myself in your estimation on one 
point — I acknowledge that I deserved all 



264 PEXHALA. 

that has fallen on me, but I should like 
you to know that just that one piece of 
villainy, the suspicion of which drove me 
from my father s house, and made a social 
pariah of me, I am not guilty of; the one 
piece of wickedness which the whole world 
credits me with I did not commit; the one 
charge which has turned me into an 
Ishmaelite for all time I am innocent of. 
As surely as I am grateful for the inestim- 
able blessing of your friendship, I swear 
this to you, I swear it solemnly I If, at 
any time in the future, you should learn 
who and what I really am, I ask you to re- 
member this assertion of mine, and never 
to doubt it — the crime I am accused of I 
am innocent of I You believe me?' 

' Most thoroughly !' 

' Ah !' 

It was a sigh of fervent relief, a sigh 
which spoke so eloquently of the burden 



PEXHALA. 265 

just cast off, that Marj's lip trembled a 
little for very pity. 

And so he told half his story, and leffc 
half untold, forgetful of the danger of half- 
€onfidences. 

'If you knew what it was to rest for 
years under an unjust accusation, and then 
to find some one — and some one whose 
good opinion is inestimably preci > : 
you — who believes in your innocence! 
But it is only one more good gift from you 
to me — this belief in me. It sets me 
shaking sometimes when I think of all I 
owe you. My very soul you have given 
back to me — you found me a brute, and 
you have revived in me some touch of man- 
hood. May God reward you as you 
deserve — as He alone can.' 

They waited a little, looking at one an- 
other in a silence that was more eloquent 
of intense feeling than the most fervid 



266 PENHALA. 

speech. Very wliite their faces were 
as they held each other in the close^ 
lingering gaze of a complete unity of 
thought and feeling. Then he put his 
hand out, Avith a touch of something like 
entreaty in the action. 

' I have never dared to take your hand 
before. May I take it now, because of 
the hope of something better to come that 
is lifting my heart up so wonderfully ? If 
there is less contamination in my touch 
than there was, it is due to the purifying 
power of a good woman's influence.' 

They stood awhile, hand in hand, eye to 
eye, with the autumn stillness like an in- 
visible wall all about them, and they two 
alone in it. The silence between them 
was of that indescribable quality which 
invests the very vibrations of the heart 
with the power of speech — the only form 
of speech possible at such a moment. 



PENHALA. 267 

And, presently, he grew terrified lest even 
that inarticulate recital of his feelings 
should grow too outspoken, and tell her 
more than she would deign to listen to of 
the state of his mind. A sudden fear of 
his own presumption fell on him. He 
dropped her hand, and lowered his eyes, 
and strode off hurriedly ; through the 
gate, down the leafy lane, out of sight. 

Mary stood there a breathless spell, 
wondering. 

And the stirred wonder was still in 
her eyes when she turned and went into 
the house. 



268 



CHAPTER IV. 

AN UPWARD STEP. 

Missionary Mary's scheme for the better- 
ing of John's position prospered so exceed- 
ingly, that a cynical onlooker, had there 
been any such at hand, would have inevit- 
ably come to the conclusion that this dish 
of broth was of the devil's own brewing. 
From start to finish there was never a 
hitch in the negociations between Mr. 
Burlington and his new tenor. 

On the day following the receipt of the 
wire from Miss Fentimore, the manager 



PEXHALA. 269 

ran down to Chichester, met Mr. Smith bv 
appointment at the princij)al music-shop, 
tried his voice, took his observations on 
the questions of appearance, presence, 
etcetera, and, concluding that Miss Fenti- 
more's '* find ' was likely to turn out an 
unusually satisfactory stop-gap, came to 
terms at once. 

And in a small way John was a success. 
In his position as second tenor, it was 
hardly expected of him that he should 
make a sensation with the public ; but 
he was expected to be note-perfect in his 
parts, to put himself into the background 
as much as was consistent with the con- 
struction of the scene, as often as he and 
the leading soprano occupied the stage 
together, and to be ready and willing to 
come to the rescue of the management in 
any emergency that might arise ; and all 
these expectations he fulfilled to the letter. 



270 PENHALA. 

For his heart was still aglow with grati- 
tude to his good angel, and he worked 
like a horse to do credit to her recom- 
mendation. 

And so it was that he quietly but surely 
attained a popular position in the company. 
Among the men he was ' A good sort of 
fellow; a bit close about himself; but as 
fair a chap in business as one could wish 
to meet ' — which really meant that he 
carried his unobtrusiveness on the stage 
to the verge of self-effacement, and allowed 
other people to claim his share of the 
applause as well as their own. The honest 
truth of the matter was, that he cared no- 
thing for the applause but a very great 
deal for Miss Fentimore's approval ; and, 
so long as he got that, he was indifferent 
to the opinion of the audience. 

With the ladies he was even a greater 
favourite than with the men. It is 



PENHALA. 271 

possible that they too appreciated his 
consistent humble-mindedness on the 
stage, but they were also attracted by the 
quiet deference of his bearing towards 
them ; and his handsome broAvn eyes, and 
waving chestnut hair, and close silky 
brown beard, and muscular figure certain- 
ly did their share, in securing for him the 
favourable opinion of the female members 
of the company. 

And Mary watched his growing popu- 
larity and the increasing improvement in 
his morale with a sweet, secret delight. 
Every little advance he made Avas a source 
of great gladness to her, and she took 
more pride, immeasurably more, in every 
little success he scored with the audience 
than she had ever taken in her own oTeater 
triumphs. And he knew exactly how she 
felt on this point, and the knowledge 
spurred him on to such constant effort 



272 PEXHATA. 

and endeavour that it told with the audi- 
ences as, despite his modesty, it was bound 
to do, and Burlington declared openly 
that he had never had such a painstaking 
artist in his employ since he started 
management. 

And in those days the Morelli-Fentimore 
feud waxed secretlv stronojer. Hitherto 
the Italian's jealousy had been a profes- 
sional jealousy only ; now it was something 
more. John's bright, wavy locks, and his 
sorrow-clouded glance, and the wistfulness 
of his unfrequent smile had attracted the 
fancy of the hl^ick-hrowed 2)rima-cIojvia, at 
the very moment of his presentation ; and 
when to these advantages was added that 
marked unobtrusiveness in business, which 
left the applause entirely at her feet, her 
heart warmed to this operatic novice as it 
had never warmed to man before. It was 
a curious feeling she developed for him, 



PENHALA. 273 

half patronage, half love. Hitherto her 
consuminof ambition had filled her life, to 
the exclusion of all gentler passions, and 
perhaps it was because she so rarely smiled 
upon a man that now, when she did, she ex- 
pected her favours to be accepted humbly 
and responded to with avidity. 

But this was just what John could not 
and would- not do. At first Morelli put 
his unresponsiveness down to modesty, 
and grew warmer in her encouragement 
accordingly: but wlien she found there 
was somethino' besides his difiidence ob- 
structing her wishes, she grew furious, 
and vowed to herself that he should find 
good cause, sooner or later, to regret the 
slight he had put on her. 

And just about the time that Xita 
Morelli discovered the futility of her de- 
signs upon John, it happened that he had 
his first and last slight misunderstanding 

VOL. I. T 



274 PENHALA. 

with Burlington. Burlington wanted him 
to take oiF his beard for a certain part, and 
he refused point-blank. 

' But you can't possibly play this part 
with a beard, my dear fellow!' remon- 
strated the perplexed manager, with a 
glance at the other members of the com- 
pany, who were gathered round awaiting 
the commencement of the rehearsal ; ' and 
you can hardly expect me to engage a 
man for this one especial j^art because you 
object to shave.' 

' I expect nothing,' returned John, 
quietly. 'You must consult your own 
convenience entirel}^' 

' Do you mean that, sooner than take 
off your beard, you would throw the 
engagement up altogether?' ^ 

' Yes,' answered the second tenor, speak- 
ing entirely without bluster, but with ab- 
solute decision. ' I'm afraid I do mean 



PENHALA. 275 

that. Nothing you could offer me in the 
way of parts or salary would induce me 
to part with my beard.' 

' AYell, I'm blest !' ejaculated Burling- 
ton, vastly astonished at this sudden 
exhibition of stubbornness in one he 
had hitherto found so willing to oblige. 
He would doubtless have been still 
more surprised if he had known the real 
particulars of John's financial position, if 
he had known that there was nothing be- 
tween his new tenor and penury but the 
weekly salary he paid him. However, 
he neither knew nor guessed at John's 
poverty. 

' That's the worst of you chaps with 
means of your own, you're so confound- 
edly independent when you do take a 
whim into your heads. Xow what is your 
objection to shaving ? You're not going 
to tell me it's pure conceit, are you ? Be- 

T 2 



276 PENH ALA. 

cause if that's it, I can tell you you'd be 
a sight better looking without the beard 
than with it.' 

John Smith smiled in a way which 
effectually disposed of that view of the 
matter. 

' Then what the deuce are you jibbing 
at ?' cried the irritated Burlington, with 
another glance at the interested faces 
around him. ^ You're such an obliging 
chap, as a rule ; what on earth do you 
want to set your back up over such a 
trifling thing as this for ? It'll put me to 
no end of inconvenience, you know, to 
drag the man over from the number two 
company as often as we want to do this 
opera ; and that's what I shall have to do 
if you won't give way. And the weeks he 
comes to us you'll have to take his place 
in the other crowd, and you won't like 
that, I expect.' 



PENHALA. 277 

But John snatched eagerly at this way 
out of the dilemma. He would not object 
to the extra travelling at all, and he would 
make no trouble of an occasional week 
with the number two company — he would 
do anything, in short, to oblige Mr. Bur- 
lington, but dispense with his beard, and 
that he would not do. 

Morelli, with the wound to her slighted 
vanity still raw, seized on the little inci- 
dent and made all she could of it. To 
Burlington she held forth on John's ob- 
stinacy until the good-natured manager 
was sick of the subject ; among the 
members of the company she threw out 
hints of Mr. Smith's possible motives for 
refusing to take off his beard, and showed 
her spite so plainly, that they joked 
among themselves over her disappoint- 
ment. And she heard of the fun that 
was being made at her expense, and added 



278 PENHALA. 

it as another mark to her score against the 
upstart amateur; which was her latest 
title for unfortunate John. But her veno- 
mous attacks fell upon barren ground — 
she was not popular with the company, 
and John Smith was, and they refused to 
believe that, because he would not shave, 
he must needs be a criminal of the deepest 
dye. And so the breeze passed over ap- 
parently without doing any damage. But 
circumstances, which seem slight enough 
in themselves at the time, occasionally 
prove of the gravest importance, when 
the sum total for and against a man's good 
name comes to be reckoned up. 

As Miss Fentimore left the theatre at 
the end of that rehearsal John ventured 
to offer his escort ; a thing he very 
seldom did, for he had been scrupulously 
careful, since joining the company, to 
avoid doing anything that could bring her 



PENH ALA. 279 

name into association with his. It avouIcI 
be a queer return to make for her un- 
paralleled oroodness to him, to lower her 
fair name by bringing it down to the 
level of his. This was the reason he had 
never sought her society privately, striv- 
ing to content himself with a word or two 
spoken amid the chatter of the green-room, 
or the hurry and bustle of departure and 
arrival on the railway platforms, during 
their weekly journeyings from town to 
town. But to-day he felt bound to get a 
few words with her in private, come what 
might of it, and so he asked to be allowed 
to walk to her lodgings with her. 

There was less familiarity between them 
now than there had been in the Love Lane 
days, and they were both conscious of a 
touch of shyness as they turned away from 
the stage door, and set their faces towards 
Prince's Street — for the little arofument 



280 PENHALA. 

happened during their stay in Edinbursjh. 
All the world seemed to be abroad, this 
crisp December day, on the wide pavement 
of the most beautiful street in the world, 
and as Miss Fentimore and her cavalier 
threaded their way through the well- 
dressed crowd they came in for a fair share 
of observation. For Mary's portrait smiled 
at the passers from all the music-sellers' 
windows in the town, and if John was not 
equally well known, his calling was guess- 
ed at by the shrewd Scotch folks ; and 
they were almost as interested in him as 
in his fair companion. But this morning 
the}^ were scarcely conscious of the ob- 
servation they were exciting, they were too 
deeply absorbed in their own affairs. 

' I hope you are not annoyed with me 
for what happened this morning,' said 
John, as soon as they were well clear of 
the theatre. ' It must have seemed so 



PENm^xA. 281 

churlish to refuse to do what Burlington 
asked, and yet ' 

' But that is nonsense !' broke in Mary, 
brightly. ' Mayn't a man follow his own 
wishes about the length of his own beard ? 
How could you think I should be annoyed 
with you for such a thing?' 

John smiled his wistful smile round at 
her, and glanced away again, along the 
streams of people coming and going ahead 
of him, before he answered her. 

' You see. Miss Fentimore, that is just 
what I can't do.' There was keen pain 
underlying the quietness of his voice, and 
Mary suddenly found herself wishing he 
would not say what he was going to. 
^ That is what I wanted to explain to you. 
If it was merely a matter of personal whim 
or liking, do you think I would have held 
out about it ? Do you think I set so little 
store by all you have done for me, as to 



282 PENHALA. 

risk the loss of it for tlie indulgence of a 
paltry bit of vanity ? Did you liear what 
good-natured old Crawford said about my 
beard preserving my throat from mischief? 
Well, that is the real truth of the case ; 
though perhaps not in just the manner he 
meant. Have you never realised what an 
extraordinary change a beard works in a 
man's appearance ? If I were to dare to 
take my beard off — you remember what I 
told you the afternoon you came out to me 
under the acacia-tree, and first suggested 
that I should try for this engagement? 
Something about an accusation hanging 
over my head, an accusation of a crime I 
am innocent of?' 

By her face he saw that she did, and 
went on without waiting a reply. 

' It is because of that that I hold on so 
desperately to the disguise of my beard. 
Preserve my throat indeed ! It does more 



PENHALA. 283 

ttan that, Miss Fentimore, it preserves my 
neck.' 

She turned her glance to his in blank 
inquiry, and, reading in a flash the full 
meaning of his words, she cried out as if 
he had struck her, and reeled a step apart 
from him. 

Quick as thought he twisted her round 
towards the shop- windows, and placed 
himself as a shield between her white, 
terror-stricken face, and the curious obser- 
vation of the passing crowd. He had not 
anticipated her terror, and it came as a 
shock to him ; but he did not lose his 
self-possession as she had done. 

' It never struck me that it might 
frighten you,' he said, putting her hand 
under his arm, and making a great dis- 
play of interest in the contents of the 
window. ' I would not have told you if 
I had known, but I thought you had 



"284 PENHALA. 

guessed. I forgot that you would most 
likely be half dead with terror to find 
yourself in the presence of a sus- 
pected ' 

'No!' she cried, under her breath. 
• No ! don't say it ! Hush ! let me steady 
myself 

The hand clutching so desperately at his 
coat-sleeve, and the wide-stretched, piteous 
eyes fixed so searchingly on him, as if she 
would fain persuade herself that he was 
only trifling with her, hurt him horribly. 
This was to be her attitude towards him 
for the future — a terrified pity, or a pity- 
ing terror. He was to be a waking night- 
mare to her! Ah, but he would not 
though — he would take himself out of her 
life altogether, rather. 

' Poor, scared little child,' he said, 
tenderly, forgetting his old humility as 
the necessity for protection arose, ' poor 



PENHALA. 285 

friojhtened little woman ! Why did I 
pounce the hideous truth out on you like 
that ? Blundering brute that I am ! I 
ought to have known how it would shock 
you. Don't look at me like that — people 
will wonder — and — it cuts me like a 
knife.' 

' It is terrible !' she muttered, dropping 
her eyes in obedience to his hint. ' It is 
ghastly — awful ! I never guessed at — 
that. I never dreamt your danger was so 
extreme as that. Oh, why do you stay in 
the country at all ? Why don't you go 
away to the other side of the world, where 
you would be in comparative safety?' 

' My safety ? Is it my safety you are 
thinking of? Is it the thought of my 
danger that frightened you so?' The dis- 
covery sent a quick glow through him. 
Thank God, she was frightened for him 
rather than of him ! ' Was it your fear 



286 PENHALA. 

for me that knocked you over like that ? 
It comes upon me in the same way some- 
times, even now. But that is only when 
the memory flashes into my mind all in 
an instant — without a moment's warning, 
and I see myself already at the finish, pay- 
ing the penalty for a crime I did not 
commit. When the recollection of the 
fate hanging over me comes on me sud- 
denly in that way, I go faint and sick with 
the horror of it. At other times, when I 
force myself to face the possibility quietly, 
as now, I can keep my cowardice under 
control.' 

' Cowardice ?' she repeated, smiling 
wanly up at him. ' Cowardice?' 

They were walking on again now, and 
had nearly arrived at the end of their 
journey. 

' Well,' he said, answering her smile with 
one which had plenty of manhood in it, 



PENHALA. 287 

* I don't know what else you call the fear 
of death. It is a thing that must come to 
us sooner or later, and since we must die, 
it ought not to make so much difference 
whether one dies between the sheets, or 
in the open air with a rope ' 

' Oh, for God's sake, don't, I pray of 
you !' she gasped. ' If you talk like that, 
I shall drop dead at your feet.' 

Her intense anguish was such that he 
instinctively drew back a step, the better 
to read the expression of her face. She 
stood in the open doorway of the Edin- 
burgh house, with the dense shadow of 
the public stairway behind her. Strange- 
ly white and ethereal her face looked 
against the blackness of the dark entry, 
but there was something besides terror in 
it — something which overwhelmed him 
in a sudden rush of wildly conflicting 
emotions, which, passing, left him shaking, 



288 PENHALA. 

with a feeling at liis heart as if a hand of 
ice had grasped it. 

They had just been talking of cowardice 
— this would be cowardice indeed, to take 
advantange of the knowledge which had 
that instant flashed in on his under- 
standing! 

' You must make allowances for me,' 
she went on, faintly, and he knew just 
the pleading smile she wore though he was 
not looking at her ; for, amid all the blind 
bewilderment of the moment, he had sense 
enough to keep his gaze away from hers, 
knowing the trouble in her face might be 
too much for him. ' I can't control myself 
as you can. I go weak and faint when 
you say those things. And yet, if you 
could talk to me about it a little, it might 

be that Will you come in for a few 

minutes? We can talk better upstairs; 
and I can't send you away like this.' 



PENH ALA. 289 

She turned and went up the stairs, 
going slowly, and holding on to the hand- 
rail as if she felt the need of its assistance, 
and he followed her. 

It was the first time he had been in a 
room inhabited by her since the days in 
the Sussex cottage ; and even at that mo- 
ment, amid all the rack and hurry of his 
brain, he was conscious, as he entered the 
large, light room looking out on to the 
Leith road, of the subtle influence of her 
personality surrounding him. 

In what it consisted he could not tell, 
he only felt that if he had stumbled 
accidentally into this room, without any 
previous knowledge on the matter, his 
instinct would have informed him of the 
individuality of the occupant. 

She went over to a large, old-fashioned 
couch between the high windows, and 
sank on it with an air of exhaustion, and 

VOL. I. u 



290 PENH ALA. 

pulled off her gloves and removed her 
veil and hat, and pushed her trembling 
fingers through the luxuriant masses of 
hair above her brow, as if even that 
weight were too much for her head just 
then. 

^ I have often wondered how and when 
you would next pay me a visit,' she said, 
smiling sorrowfully across the big room at 
him. ' I never thought of such circum- 
stances ' 

' You know now why I never came,' he 
put in, as she broke off in sheer inability 
to go on. ' Even apart from this, there i& 
so much in my life that should keep me 
from pressing my society on a pure, good 
woman ; but, if there were nothing else, 
this would be enough. The blight that 
is on me is contagious. It might spread 
at any time to those who associate with 
me. I have tried to keep you free of this 



PENH ALA. 291 

risk — to keep you outside the circle of 
shadow that hems me in.' 

' I understood somethino^ of that,' she 
said; ' not all, but something of it I under- 
stood ; and I was sorrv ; and I am sorrv 
still. Won't you come over here l3y the 
windows, there is always something to be 
seen in the streets below, and — I want to 
say things I dare not say aloud.' 

He came and stood close by the head of 
the couch, gazing blindly across the wide 
space of the road beneath the windows, 
seeing nothing of the bustle of the street 
below, conscious only of her white up- 
turned face close under him. 

' First of all I want to scold you,' she 
went on. ' Why did you not tell me the 
whole truth at first ? There must be some 
way out of this terror — there must be, 
there slicdl be ! We will find it together — 
you and I. Two heads are better than 

u2 



292 PENH ALA. 

one. If you had only told me this when 
you told me the rest, you might have been 
a free man now, able to throw off the 
burden you have carried so long.' 

Her beautiful trust in him touched him 
to the core of his being, but at her reason- 
ing he only shook his head, and drew in a 
long, tremulous breath. 

' You don't know,' he said, quietly, 
' and I can't explain matters to you. If I 
could, you would see how hopeless things 
are for me.' 

' Nothing is hopeless !' she cried. ' I 
will not believe it.' 

Again he shook his head slightly. 

• I'm afraid my case is. There are other 
influences at work — the desire for justice 
is not the only motive — there is the long- 
ing for revenge to be reckoned with.' 

' Revenge against an innocent man ?' 

' Ah, you don't understand ! Innocent 



PENHALA. 293 

of that one crowning iniquity against 
human life ? Yes. But guilty still of a 
great deal that calls out for vengeance. 
There is a man living whose longing to 
be revenged on me is such, that he would 
swear away my life without a moment's 
hesitation.' 

' Swear away your life ?' 

^ He would swear — he has already sworn 
— that he saw me, that he himself saw me^ 
commit the crime I did not commit.' 

' He would swear away your life with a 

lie r 

' To be revenged on me for those other 
sins, yes. There is nothing half-hearted 
about a Cornishman's revenge.' 

' If I could but see him !' 

' It would be no use.' He let his glance 
fall for an instant to her pale face, and 
pictured her vis-a-vis with. Morris Edyvean. 
' To open communication with the past 



294 PENHALA. 

would only be to put tlie noose round my 
neck. There is nothing for it but to bear 
the burden as best I can.' 

She put her hand over her eyes, and 
murmured brokenly, 

' It is terrible — terrible !' 

' Yes ; sometimes it is very terrible. If 
I were altogether innocent of \Yrong-doing 
in the matter, I could bear it better. But 
there is always the memory that, though 
I did not in very deed take away a fellow- 
creature's life, I am responsible for the 
circumstances that led to her death. And 
sometimes I think the stain of blood- 
guiltiness is on my soul, as truly as if I 
had wilfully hurried that poor child into 
eternity, and that in the end I am bound 
to be hanged for it. Xow and then, when 
I am alone, this idea — that my end is pre- 
ordained, that, do what I Avill, I shall hang 
ultimately — gets such a hold on me, that 



TENHALA. 295 

I feel madness coming on, and I rush 
away, out into the streets, anywhere where 
there are people, and talk to a shoe-lDlack, 
or a crossing-sweeper, or anybody who will 
listen to me till the mad terror passes 
again.' 

She still sat Avith her hand over her 
eyes, and he thought she was crying. It 
was the first time he had known her give 
way to such a weakness. It smote him 
with a new touch of sorrow to know that 
the unusual tears were shed on his ac- 
count. If it had but been possible for 
him to gather her up in his arms and com- 
fort her ! But such joy was not for him. 
He stood looking down at her bent head 
for a shorr space, with his eyes full of 
a grievous heart-hunger, a heart-hunger 
which he must endure to the end in si- 
lence, l)ecause he did not dare make an 
effort to satisfy it. 



296 PENH ALA. 

' I suppose it is part of the cloud tliat is 
over me,' lie said, ' that no one can be 
orood to me without suiFerins; for it. See 
-what distress I have brought on you — you 
to whom I owe a gratitude past the wit of 
man to measure. But that at least I can 
prevent in the future, and I will. God 
bless you for your sweet sympathy ! It 
makes me realise that I cannot be wholly 
lost, when such a one as you can weep for 
me.' 

He stooped and kissed the back of her 
hand, as it still sheltered her face from 
observation, and, turning swiftly, strode 
without a backward glance or a faltering 
step from the room. 

END OF THE FIKST VOLUME. 



London : Printed by Duncan Macdonald, Blenheim Housa., W, 



UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA 

823R541P C001 v.1 
Penhala a wayside wizard 



30 



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